Archive for the ‘Work File Only – Observer’s Challenge Reports’ category

Messier 8: Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius – July 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #138

June 11, 2020


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

July 2020

Report #138

Messier 8, Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

This month’s target:  

Messier 8 is made up a historically confusing collection of star groups and nebulosity. According to expert NGC/IC researcher Dr. Harold Corwin: “NGC 6523 is the star-forming core of M8 at the heart of the bright northwestern part of the nebula. NGC 6526 is the southeastern part of the nebula, and NGC 6530 is the bright star cluster 10-12 arcmin following N6523.  NGC 6533 applies to the entire M 8 complex, and IC 1271 and IC 4678 apply to condensations in its eastern reaches.”

You can read more about these and many other items of interest at: and 

 2019 and 2020 journal papers involving parts of the M8 complex use distances from 4.1 to 4.3 thousand light-years.  


Sue French:  Observer from New York

I’ve sketched M8 on two occasions. I worked on my first sketch during two nights in 1997 with my 105mm (4.1-inch) refractor at 87×. I did not use a star diagonal, so this drawing has north up and east to the right. My sketch paper back then left something to be desired. It took penciling very well, but was a bit yellowish and tended to look rumpled.


The second sketch was made in 2016 as seen through my130mm (5.1-inch) refractor at 48×, also on two nights. A narrowband (UHC) filter was used to help define the nebula, but no filter was used for the stars. The brightest star on the right-hand side of the sketch is 7 Sgr, which looked yellow through the scope. In this mirror-reversed view north is up and west is to the right. The small, butterfly-shaped region in the brightest part of the nebula is known as the Hourglass.



Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

For M8 it is large for my 32-inch, so I am sending two sets of images:  The first image is from my 32-inch which shows the center of the lagoon, and also highlights the star forming glow to the right of the lagoon itself, and the hourglass shape glow. 

This image taken with narrowband imaging Ha, O3, and S2, total about three hours.  Also Ha only as it shows detail, 1.5 hours

Next image an M8 wide field, taken with my 8-inch RC which was piggybacked on my scope. 

This is Lum, R,G,B filters, and also some Ha added to Lum and Red.  This is a total of about 3.5 hours imaging.    





Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany  

Objekt: Messier 8 “Lagunennebel”

Teleskop: 4″ Bino

Vergrößerung: 55x

Filter: [OIII]

Bedingungen: fst 6m5+

Seeing: III

Ort: Sudelfeld

M8 Uwe






NGC 5689 and Optional Galaxy NGC 5676 In Bootes – June 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #137

May 20, 2020


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

June 2020

Report #137

Galaxy NGC 5689 in Boötes

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together



The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

This month’s target

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 5689 dwells in the northern reaches of Boötes, the Herdsman. In a a 2015 journal paper, Korean astronomer Hong Bae Ann and colleagues derived the galaxy’s distance from its radial velocity relative to the Local Group, using a Hubble constant of 75 km/sec/Mpc. Correcting their distance using the Hubble constant now favored by the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (67.8 km/sec/Mpc) converts it to 99 million light-years.

William Herschel discovered NGC 5689 in 1787. His hand-written journal reads, “Pretty bright or considerably bright. A little elongated in the direction of the parallel, about 1½′ long. Much brighter in the middle.” Three nights later, he described it as having faint branches.


Sue French:  Observer from New York 

May 21, 2020

10-inch f/5.9 Newtonian reflector

Seeing: fair.  Transparency: good

I can just barely squash NGC 5689 and NGC 5676 into the field of view at 88×, which has a true field of 56 arcminutes. The sketch shows this along with the brightest field stars. There wasn’t much detail to be seen at this magnification, so I improved the looks of the two galaxies according to their appearance at 187×. At that power, NGC 5689 is an adorable little guy that looks very much like the archetypical UFO. The core’s bulge sticks out more toward the north than the south, and it holds a brighter center. Also at 187×, NGC 5676 hosts an ovalish core, and the galaxy appears brighter NE×E of the core than it does on the opposite side.

NGC 5676 and 5689 cinvc


Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany

Object: NGC 5676  

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian 

Magnification: 419×

NELM: 6.5+

Seeing: III

Location: Sudelfeld  

Sketch as following: 

NGC5676i Uwe inv

 Object: NGC 5689

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian 

Magnification: 293× – 488×

Magnification: fst 6m5+

Seeing: III

Location: Sudelfeld

Sketch as following:

NGC5689i Uwe inv


James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 5689 is a magnitude 11.8 galaxy in Boötes.  The galaxy is located 10 degrees north of Gamma Boötis and 8 degrees east of the star Alkaid, the star at the end of the Big Dipper’s handle.  Some classify this galaxy as lenticular while others claim it is a barred spiral galaxy. The galaxy is nearly edge on and has a relatively bright core and galactic bulge with a faint featureless disk.

I imaged the galaxy over several nights under less than idea atmospheric conditions.  I used an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien Cassegrain (with a Televue 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/6.4) and an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The total exposure time was 4 hours. In the image north is up and east to the left.

Two other notable galaxies in the image are NGC5682, a 14.3 magnitude spiral galaxy to the southwest of NGC 5689, and NGC5693, a 14.2 magnitude face-on spiral galaxy.  There are scores of other galaxies in the same image ranging from magnitude 15 to 18.  The bright star at the top of the image is magnitude 10.2. 



Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina

NGC 5689 and NGC 5676 – Galaxies in Bootes 

Date:  May 2020

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector

Sketch Magnification: 200x

NELM:  4.8

Faint and dim from my moderately light polluted backyard.  Poor transparency, due to springtime pollen and ambient lighting mixing together creating sky glow, similar to  snow covering.  

NGC 5689:  Elongated EW, brighter central region, with mottling in both the core and arms.  When using averted vision at 200x, a stellar nucleus can be seen, but not constantly.  Looking approximately 50 arcminutes to the NNW is galaxy NGC 5676.  

NGC 5676:  50 arc minutes to the NNW of NGC 5689, lies galaxy NGC 5676.  A bit brighter than NGC 5689.  This galaxy is elongated, oriented NE-SW, without any center brightness, very soft with even texture.  But with very careful and patient observing using averted vision, the southwestern section appears to have greater concentration, and brighter than the northeastern part.  However, very subtle.  

Pencil sketches as following:

NGC 5689 Roger

NGC 5676 Roger


Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

After what was over a month of rain and clouds, finally a clear night last night, see attached, NGC 5689 for June object, also noted are NGC 5682-83 in lower right side of field.

This group is 110 million light years away.

Taken with 32-inch telescope, 45 minutes total integration time, with ZWO ASI6200 camera, and processed PixInsight.

Note, I normally take a minimum of over 60 minutes, and I did… but had to drop 4 frames due to incredibly bright satellite trails, unusual that far north. these trails were much brighter than ordinary satellites , and could not be fully removed with processing, so had to drop frames.

I suspect Starlink satellites , a bad taste of what I suspect is the future., and only a small fraction have yet been put in orbit.



Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

Telescope: 16-inch f/4.5 truss Dobson

These are the first object that I studied with my 16-inch truss Dobson. I had never observed them before.

Due to my Bortle 5 sky I don’t get satisfying low power views of deep-sky objects. My best views are at powers of 150x and above. I was not even trying to fit both galaxies in the same high power eyepiece. 

NGC 5676 is the most detailed of the two. A starlike nucleus is embedded in a bar shaped core. The NE-part of the core seems to extend into a short spiral arm. The halo of this galaxy extends more to the SW. Within the SE edge of the halo, I could detect a small trace of another spiral arm. 

NGC 5689 appears much smaller. A stellar nucleus is centered in an oval donut shaped core. This could be an illusion due to the difference in brightness between the nucleus an the core. The E-side of the oval donut seems a little brighter than the W-side. The halo is elongated.

The sketches are digital reproductions of raw pencil sketches behind the eyepiece at powers of 200x and 278x.

The fov is 22 arc minutes 

North is up

West to the right  

NGC 5689




NGC 5676





Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts 

NGC 5689 – Lenticular Galaxy in Boötes (Mag: 11.9 Size: 3.3’ X 1.0’)

June is a difficult month for backyard astronomers here in the northern hemisphere. We battle fatigue (June sunsets are the latest of the year), haze and humidity, and – mosquitos. While yawning, sweating, and swatting, you’ll be struggling to glimpse this month’s Observer’s Challenge, the 12th magnitude lenticular galaxy NGC 5689.

I went after NGC 5689 with a 10-inch f/5 reflector on a clear, moonless evening under typical suburban skies (limiting magnitude 5). To find the galaxy, I star-hopped, beginning from a triangle made up of the stars kappa (κ), iota (ι), and theta (θ), Boötis, located in the upper northwest corner of Boötes and east of the handle of the Big Dipper. From there, I traced a path to the 6th magnitude stars 24 Boötis and SAO45121. At 139X and using averted vision, I could barely make out a ghostly glow less than a degree south and slightly east of the latter star. The glimpses were so fleeting that I was unable to capture any detail. If I were to tackle NGC 5689 again, I would observe from a much darker site.

If you’re limited to a small-aperture scope and/or skies compromised by artificial lighting, I encourage you to check out a trio of nearby double stars shown in Finder Chart B. Kappa (κ) Boötis is a charming magnitude 4.5 and 6.6 pair separated by 13.7 arc-seconds. Less than a degree southeast is iota (ι) Boötis whose magnitude 4.8 and 7.4 components are a roomy 38.9” apart. Both pairs are easily split at 30X. You’ll need a boost in magnification (100X or more) to split 39 Boötis. In 2019, this magnitude 6.3 and 6.7 duo was separated by a mere 2.5”. Both are mid F-class main sequence stars. Are you able to detect a subtle off-yellow hue?

NGC 5689 was discovered by William Herschel in 1787. Sources place its distance as somewhere between 100 and 120 million light years. In either case, the photons striking your retina left when dinosaurs ruled the earth.


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

On June 16th @10:30pm EDT, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 5689 from Arlington, MA. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 7; NELM 4.5; Transparency: Good; Seeing: Excellent.  

Asellus Primus was barely visible in the light polluted skies of Arlington. To get to NGC5689 I star hopped from it to g Bootis and then CH Bootis which fit in the view of my 35mm eyepiece along with NGC5689. At this low power of 36x the galaxy is difficult to consistently detect with averted vision appearing as just a faint spot against the background. There is a line of 3 bright stars mag. 5 to mag. 8 to the North running NE-SW (HD 128643, CH Bootis, & HD 127930). There is an arc of 5 mag. 8 to mag. 10 stars to the SE (HD 128718, TYC 3476-0987-1, SAO 45150, SAO 45156, & HD 129308) that bends to the NW in the middle like a bow. 2 more mag. 10 stars near the middle point to the SE forming an arrow in the bow that points NW towards a trapezoid of mag. 10 to mag. 11 stars (TYC 3476-1064-1, TYC 3476-1489-1, TYC 3476-0680-1 & TYC 3476-0722-1). The 2 parallel sides run North-South. The shorter side is to the East away from the galaxy (TYC 3476-0680-1 & TYC 3476-0722-1). There is a fainter 5th star in the middle visible with averted vision (TYC 3476-1348-1). To the West of the NW star in the trapezoid is another mag. 10 star (TYC 3476-0252-1), and the galaxy sits about the same distance to the West of the SW star in the trapezoid (TYC 3476-1489-1).

At 115x (11mm) the galaxy NGC 5689 is visible with averted vision, but it’s difficult to keep it from disappearing while focusing my attention on it. I can’t get any hint of the elongation or shape of the galaxy, just it’s presence. The Western edge of the trapezoid of stars is still visible in the view, and a fainter star just to the NW of the NW star of the trapezoid is visible (TYC 3476-0572-1). Two mag. 13 stars also appear between the galaxy and the mag. 10 star to it’s North.

At 270x (4.7mm) NGC 5689 is still visible with averted vision. It is easier to detect it while panning the telescope view around. It appears as a slight and small glow against the background. There is a tiny hint of elongation in the East-West orientation. 


Mike McCabe: Observer from Massachusetts

June was a tough month for me as far as observing goes. I don’t like the late onset of darkness and on top of that the weather wasn’t very cooperative.  Also, the past several years have had the planets in the evening sky to occupy me while it gets dark. Now with nothing to fill the two hour twilight zone I often find myself falling asleep before astronomical dark sets in, and once that happens it’s over.

I did get out a few times though, and during those times the sky was pretty good for this time of year. On the evening that I tackled the observer’s challenge the sky was variable, with large banks of clouds coming through and causing me to temporarily abandon my efforts until they passed by. During the times that the Bootes area of the sky was clear, the transparency was about 2/5 and the seeing was also 2/5. That’s about average for my area. One thing that wasn’t average though was the temperature – at 23:00 it was still 75ºf and the humidity was 84%!  It was definitely a sticky night.

I used a 10-inch f/5 Newtonian reflector on a dob base, and my sketch was made at a magnification of 104x. The star hop was an easy one from Alkaid, the star that marks the end of the handle in the Big Dipper. That was good, because I had to do it several times due to the cloud situation. I found the galaxy to be readily visible in the eyepiece and the orientation was clearly discernible. Interestingly the field of view was quite sparse, save for a couple of 10th –12th magnitude stars here and there. I wasn’t able to glean any more detail about the galaxy during this observation, but then under the sky I was working with I was pretty pleased just to be able to see it at all.

I did not get the chance to view the optional galaxy NGC 5676 due to the sky going away too badly after finally getting 5689 on paper. I’m now looking forward to viewing the summer objects and trying to wring out all that extended nebulosity that they all offer.  Pencil Sketch: 

Pencil Sketch:  Joseph Rothchild: Observer from Massachusetts

Jun'20 ObsChall NGC 5689 McCabe-G


Joseph Rothchild: Observer from Massachusetts

I observed NGC 5689, a small galaxy in Bootes.  I observed at Cape Cod under fairly dark skies with my 10-inch reflector.

The galaxy was fairly straightforward to find, but needed to be differentiated from other faint galaxies in the area.  I confirmed it’s location near a small line of 3 stars. The galaxy formed a square with three other stars, one of which was a double.

The galaxy itself was small, faint, and oval in shape without discernible structure.  It was best seen at 89x.

I had never observed this galaxy before, so I was thankful it was on the challenge list for this month.  John Bishop: Observer from Massachusetts


 John Bishop: Observer from Massachusetts

I only got a quick peek at this month’s object, NGC 5689 in Bootes, at the end of an observing session on 5/13/20. I was sure I would have another session in June. I was wrong. As a result, my observation was pretty barebones; I didn’t spend much time viewing the object, and I didn’t see or look for NGC 5676.

I observed NGC 5689 from a remote forest setting in Plymouth, MA, about 50 miles from Boston. Conditions were very favorable. The sky was clear;  transparency and seeing were good.  I observed with an 8.25 inch Dall-Kirkham reflector at 48x, 100x, and 130x, using an equatorial mount with motor drive, without goto.

I found NGC 5689 fairly quickly by triangulating off Theta Bootis and Lambda Bootis, using my Telrad and 2 inch 50 mm eyepiece. It was visible (without averted vision) as a small hazy patch with no structure or detail. With increased magnification, the galaxy was elongated, with a slight brightening at center. 

The observing was particularly fine this night, benefiting from the favorable conditions at a dark sky site. Those of us observing wondered how much the COVID shutdown might have contributed to the cleaner air and lower light pollution we perceived this night.


Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts  

72mm APO Refractor 











NGC 188 – A Very Faint and Difficult Open Cluster, and so Close to Polaris

April 30, 2020

Image by James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

Telescope:  5.2-inch f/7 apochromatic refractor, 25 minute exposure with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  Date of image:  April 26th 2020 



Visual Notes by Sue French:  Observer from New York 

I’ve logged NGC 188 only twice:  By Sue French 

7-10-02, 10:25pm EDT, 105/610mm refractor, 87×, Seeing: fair, 

Transparency: good

About 30 faint to extremely faint stars in 17′. Slightly patchy background hits at unresolved stars. Inconspicuous.

 5-25-06, 2am EDT, 10-inch f/5.9 Newtonian, 68×, Seeing: poor, 

Transparency: fair

In a pretty field of bright stars.  Large, about 14′.  Nice cluster.  About 40 faint to very faint stars over patchy haze.

You’ll notice that my estimated size is different between the two observations.  Brent Archinal gives this a size of 15′.   


Visual Notes by Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

 4-inch binocular:  Magnification 23x, NELM 6.0 

     Stands out nicely from the background, visible with direct vision, large diffuse glow without any concentration, half-dozen stars are popping in and out of view within the cluster. 

 16-inch  NELM 6.5+

     Nearly fully resolved, very many (>50) faint mag. 14 stars with similar brightness, OC without any concentration or structures, some background glow.  

Pencil sketch:  20 x 125 binoculars and a 3º field of view. 



Rony De Laet:  Observer from Belgium 

The existence of this cluster was brought to my attention, back in 2005, when I became interested in sketching the Caldwell Objects. 

NGC 188 is the first entry in the Caldwell list, which is a list that orders objects from highest declination to lowest. Much to my surprise NGC 188 was located near Polaris, a convenient location to observe from my backyard. At that time, I had a computer controlled 105mm f/14 Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. 

I was pretty sure that my scope was pointed in the right direction, but when I looked into my 25mm EP…nothing but an empty field.  This was weird.  The cluster’s magnitude was rated at 8! That should have been a piece of cake, as I’d  sketched dimmer objects like M56. 

I read James O’Meara’s notes on Caldwell 1 a few hours earlier.  He even mentioned seeing the cluster with a small pair of binoculars.  Just to be sure, I sketched the stars in the field of view, but I wanted to know what went wrong. 

I believe there are two reasons why NGC 188 was beyond my reach. 

The first reason:  The majority of the stars are below the limiting magnitude of my telescope.  From my backyard, I could not see stars fainter than mag 12.5 with my 4-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain.  

The second reason is that NGC 188 is relatively large, so its combined brightness is spread over a large area, compared to a globular cluster like M56.  I had bad luck, that this cluster’s combined brightness was lower than the sky’s background brightness. 

Here are my notes and sketch from then.

Telescope:  4-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain 

Location : Bekkevoort, Belgium

Date:  November 1, 2005 , 20.45UT

Seeing:  2.5 on a scale of 5, Transparency : 3.5

Magnification: 60x

Fov 0.9°

I made the following sketch on a very dark (for my standards) night.  It was not much of a cluster to me in the ETX.  Only the brighter members are visible. The limiting magnitude is 12.5, so I guess this object is just beyond my reach.  

North is down and west is to the left: 



From the early years of the Observer’s Challenge Report: AUGUST 2010 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-188 


M85 and NGC 4394: Galaxies in Coma Berenices: Observer’s Challenge Report for May 2020: #136

April 22, 2020


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

May 2020

Report #136 

M85 and NGC 4394:  Galaxies in Coma Berenices 

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together”

May 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _M85 and NGC 4394


Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Objects: Messier 85, NGC 4394, MCG+03-32-028

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian

Magnification: 172× – 293×

NELM: 6.5+

Seeing: III

 Location: Sudefeld  

Pencil Sketch: 

M85 Uwe inv


Sue French:  Observer from New York 

Roger and I corresponded about the galaxy NGC 4293, which is in the general vicinity of this month’s targets. This inspired me to sketch the three galaxies together as seen through my 105mm refractor at 47×, with a true field of 99 arcminutes. North is up and east is to the right.

M85 is bright with a large brighter core that greatly intensifies toward the center. Its close neighbor NGC 4394 hosts a spindle-shaped interior with a small brighter bulge at its heart, all wrapped in a very faint halo. More distant, elongated NGC 4293 holds a slightly brighter center.

With more magnification, NGC 4293 is an interesting galaxy. Even at 76×, the little refractor teases out a subtle brightening that looks to me like a very shallow S curve or integral sign running the length of the galaxy. This shows better with my 10-inch reflector at 187× where the slight S shape of the broad core blends into the galaxy’s slightly brighter edges, mainly along the west-northwest and east-southeast flanks.



Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

Telescope: 10-inch f/5 truss Dobson

Much to my delight, I was able to fit both galaxies in the same high power eyepiece. An interesting comparison!  M85 is obviously the brightest of the two, but it shows no structure in my scope. It is just an amorphous elliptical glow with a stellar nucleus.  NGC 4394 is the fainter companion. My bortle 5 sky allows me to see only its central bar with a faint stellar nucleus embedded within.

The sketch is a digital reproduction of a raw pencil sketch behind the eyepiece at 200x.

The fov is 22 arcminutes

North is up and west to the right



Dale Holt:  Observer from England

I use a 505mm f/3.74 Newtonian on a fork mount and an old analogue Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera with custom cooling. The camera is B&W and delivers its image in near real time, typically 15 sec exposure to a CRT monitor in my observatory office where I sketch from the screen. Most commonly I used graphite pencil on sketch paper although sometimes I use white on black hard pastels where the object is nebulous. Post drawing I scan the image and invert using paint. Limiting magnitude of my set up is around 19-20th mag.

2018-04-18 M85 + NGC 4394 505mm + Watec 120N+ vid cam D Holt b&w


Ed Fraini:  Observer from Texas 

Observation report: M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  May 2020

Our observation of the galaxy pair was made on the evening of May 18th from 2140 CDT till 2200 CDT.  The Houston Astronomical dark site had average conditions, meaning high humidity so moderate seeing and an SQM of 19.45. The target field is near azimuth, located centrally between Virgo, Leo, and Coma Berenices giving us the best possible conditions.

Time 2140

40 mm (50x – 1.42º field of view)

M85 is visible, and NGC 4394 observed only with a blink of the eye.  Both show as hazy circular patches with no structure other than a slightly brighter core.  The core of M85 is distinct, and the outer edges of the circle are defused with no firm location. Both galaxies seem to be facing us.  The star PPM 129045, to the southeast is quite bright and clearly spaced away from the visible disk.

Time 2153

13 mm (100º AF)  (147x – 41 arcseconds)

At this power, the background is extremely black.  M85 is still void of structure, and the core is more distinctly differentiated from the disk. Now the gap between the bright companion star is much smaller. The thin veil of the outer disk reaches closer to it. Moved M85 out and placed NGC 4394 in the center of the field.  At this magnification, NGC 4394 is oval-shaped. Two exceedingly small dim stars on a line to the southwest of NGC 4394 can barely be detected.

Time 2205

6 mm (100º AF) (318x – 18 arcseconds)

Stars very dim, no useful observations made.

These two make a nice pair, how could they not be on the Two in the View AL program?  We only had about 30 more minutes of observing in this night before the clouds moved in, so this observation became the highlight of the night.  


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

On February 22nd @11:47pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe M85 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Average; Seeing: Average.  

11 Comae Berenices was barely naked eye visible with averted vision. I was able to use that star to locate M85 since it is a little over a degree to the West of the galaxy. At 36x (35mm) M85 is a faint smudge with a single faint mag. 10 star to its SE (BD +18 2609). Its companion galaxy NGC 4394 is very difficult to detect against the background. A ring of 6 bright mag. 7 to 9 stars surround the pair of galaxies (HD 108468, HD 108547, HD 108300, HD 108187, HD 108022, & HD 108023).

At 115x (11mm) there are 3 stars in an arc ranging from mag. 10 to 13 (TYC 1445-1858-1, BD +18 2609, & GAIA 3947037565924683008). The middle and brightest star in the arc has M85 just to its NW. The third and faintest of the arc has NGC 4394 to its North. M85 is the brighter of the 2 galaxies and appears slightly larger. There is a very faint star just to the North of M85’s core which is contained within the glow of the galaxy. M85’s diameter looks about the same as the distance between its core and BD +18 2609. There is a slight North to South elongation to the galaxy. NGC 4394 is much more difficult to detect, but it seems to have a NW to SE orientation.

Taking the power up to 270x (4.7mm) M85 is easy to see even with direct vision. With averted vision, the faint mag. 13 star embedded in it is visible. It still seems to have a North to South elongation, but that could be affected by the embedded star since it is on the same axis. NGC 4394 is still visible with averted vision. It seems to have a NW to SE elongation in the core possibly from a bar.


Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed M85 and NGC 4394 on May 13, photographed them on May 20, and observed them again visually on May 21.  I cherish observing the sky in the middle of spring.  Each year there is that very first truly enjoyable night, when it is finally comfortably warm and dry after the long New England winter, yet the mosquitoes have not yet appeared.  I hear flocks of geese flying north overhead and owls in the woods around my house.  I have a strong association between those sounds and the galaxies populating the spring sky.

My cursory research indicated that M85 is an elliptical (or perhaps lenticular) galaxy, NGC 4394 is a barred spiral, and both are members of the Virgo Cluster about 60 million light-years distant.  In my 8-inch scope with the 9mm eyepiece, M85 appeared quite bright, with an extended bright center (definitely not star-like) surrounded by a faint halo.  The galaxy was elliptical in shape with a north-northeast to south-southwest orientation.  I glimpsed a bright spot northeast of the center.  In my first observation I thought this could be either a foreground star of a bright spot within the galaxy (I have confirmed that it is in fact a star).  A brighter star is visible in the field southeast of the galaxy.

NGC 4394 is in the same telescopic field east of M85.  This smaller, dimmer galaxy was still fairly easy to see.  However, it was simply a round smudge with no significant detail.  

My photograph (with my Canon Digital Rebel SLR) has a total exposure of 17 minutes.  The photo shows the bright core and surrounding halo of M85.  The core and bar are clearly visible on NGC 4394.  The two spiral arms are faintly visible, with the general appearance of two rings.  I believe I see two other fuzzy objects in the photo:  one beneath (south of) M85, and one to its right (west).  I’d be interested in any information on these objects that anybody might have.

M85 and NGC 4494 (2)


Vladislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Date: April 18 and May 13, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 10mm eyepiece (185x, FOV=33′)

Filter:  No filter

Notes: M85 (NGC 4382) and NGC 4394 are located among about a dozen of foreground stars.  Even thou NGC 4382 is lenticular galaxy and NGC 4394 is a barred spiral galaxy they looked alike to me. Besides bright central regions I did not note any other details.

Pencil sketch as following:   

M85+ Slav inv2


Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts:

M85 and NGC 4394 image taken through 32-inch telescope for two hours integration time, with my new ZWP ASI6200 camera, processed in PixInsight.  It is 60 million light years away, has faint shells in its structure, and a cloud of globular clusters swarming around it. 

NGC 4394 is another nice example of an ansae type barred spiral.  



James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

Located in Coma Berenices, M85 is a lenticular galaxy. Its integrated magnitude is estimated between 9 and 10.  Because it is nearly face-on, M85 appears as an elliptical galaxy. Were it more edge on, its disk might be more apparent.

M85 was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and confirmed by Messier soon thereafter. The galaxy measures 6.9 by 5.4 arcminutes.  The galaxy is 60 million light years away.

Less than 10 arc minutes east of M85 lies the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394 which shines at magnitude 11.3.  The galaxy has a star-like core with a very bright bar running from northwest to southeast. While apparently close to M85 in the sky, in the literature distance estimates to NGC 4394 range from 39 to 121 million light years away. The most reliable distance is 58 million light years away, putting it close to M85.  Both galaxies have the same red shift; more evidence they are physically close in the heavens.

I took the wide field shot of M85 and NGC 4394 on May 24, 2020 using a 70mm f/6 Apo along with a 0.8x field flattener, focal reducer.  The image was a 110-minute exposure using a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The mount was a CGEM II. 

In the image the galaxy pair reside on the left side (east) of the image. The shot was framed to include the nearly edge on spiral galaxy NGC 4293 which lies one degree away from M85 (right side of the image).  NGC 4293 is a 10th magnitude galaxy measuring 6.2 x 3.6 arcminutes in size.  The bright star on the lower right side of the image is 11 Comae Berenices, which shines at magnitude 4.75. This is a binary star with the fainter component shining at magnitude 12.9 located 8.8 arcseconds northeast of the primary.

My second image has M85 and NGC 4394 centered.  It was taken using an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien with 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener. This 50-minute exposure also used a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  This image shows the bright core of M85 and its spiral-armless halo.  NGC 4394’s bar is clearly visible as well as its faint spiral arms.

All of the stars in the image embedded in M85’s halo are foreground objects.  The brightest star, just southeast of M85’s halo is magnitude 10.5.  The small, faint smudge 10 arcminutes to the east of M85 is IC3292. It is magnitude 15.3. This galaxy is visible in the wide field shot of M85. Just on the south edge of M85’s halo lies a 17th magnitude galaxy PGC40512, barely visible on the narrow field shot.




John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts:

I observed M85 and NGC 4394 on 5/13/20 and 5/20/20 from a remote forest setting in Plymouth, MA, about 50 miles from Boston, MA. Both nights were clear, with good  transparency and seeing. There was more moisture in the air on 5/20/20. Temperatures were in the 40s F. in the early evening, dropping into the mid-30s by midnight. It’s been a cool Spring. No bugs yet!

I observed with an 8.25 inch f/11.5 Dall-Kirkham reflector at 48x, 100x, 130x, and 193x. Equatorial mount with motor drive, without goto.

The targets for the evening were well placed for observation. I first looked for them  by dead reckoning and sweeping, rather than by true starhopping. With my 2-inch, 50 mm eyepiece (1º FOV), this approach is sometimes useful, especially where, as here, there are no prominent landmarks nearby.  This time it worked well.  In fact, on the second night, for my first view of the night, I pointed the scope at the field using the Telrad, locked the motor drive clutches, and looked in the eyepiece – there were M85 and NGC 4394, centered in the FOV!      

A fellow observer likened it to a hole-in-one!

M85 was conspicuous and bright.  It had a fairly large, bright center.  The halo was extensive, slightly elongated, and bright.  There was a star in the outer edge of the halo. At lower power the star seemed to blend in as part of some structure of the galaxy.  Otherwise, I saw no structure. M85 was much brighter than NGC 4394.

NGC 4394 was smaller and fainter than M85. It was elongated, with a nebulous halo and a defined bright core. I could not see a “bar,” but at higher magnification, the galaxy started to show brightening along its length. 

M85 and NGC 4394 were usually in the same FOV, which is always an interesting image to me.  While in the vicinity, I slid over a degree or so to NGC 4293.  At low magnification, it was a large, faint, oval haze, with no nucleus or structure; featureless, like Messier 1.  At higher power, the center was slightly brighter than the surrounding area. 

A very Interesting range of galaxies in such a small area.


Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina

M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  April 16, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Sketch Magnification:  200x

Field of View:  0.33º 

M85:  A bright, high surface brightness galaxy with a subtle elongation, oriented NNE-SSW.  The galaxy is much brighter and very concentrated in the central region with a faint outer halo.  A mag. 12 star lies on the north tip, seemingly a bit brighter, and it stands out very well, at all magnifications.  

NGC 4394:  Smaller and much fainter than Messier 85, with a bright stellar nucleus, lens shaped and elongated NW-SE. 

M85 Roger


Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts

M85 (NGC 4382) – Lenticular Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag: 9.1 Size: 7.1’ X 5.5’)  

NGC 4394 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag. 10.9 Size: 3.6’ X 3.2’)

The last two Observer’s Challenges, the 11th magnitude galaxies NGC 2859 (March) and NGC 3877 (April), were, well – challenges! If you’d like an easier target this month, we have something for you. If you’d like another challenge, we have something for you as well. The “easy challenge” is the 9th magnitude lenticular galaxy M85; the “challenging challenge” is its 11th magnitude neighbor, the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394.

M85 is the northernmost Messier galaxy in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and can be found about a degree ENE of the Magnitude 4.7 star 11 Comae Berenices. I described M85 is “easy,” because it’s relatively bright. I’ve seen it with a 3-inch reflector and a magnifying power of 30x.  Here’s a challenge. Can you capture it with binoculars?

If you look 8.5 arcminutes east of M85, you’ll see the faint glimmer of the barred spiral NGC 4394. Under dark sky conditions, a 10-inch scope will reveal the bar, which has a NW-SE orientation.  If you’re viewing NGC 4394 with a large-aperture scope, look for the outer halo, as seen in large telescope images. 

M85 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in early 1781. William Herschel picked up NGC 4394 three years later. Both galaxies are about 60 million light years away.



Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts

I observed M85 and NGC 4394 on May 21, 2020 on Cape Cod with my 10-inch reflector.  M85 was easy to locate by making a square out of the three stars forming the constellation Coma Berenices.  M85 showed a condensed core and there was a field star overlying the galaxies outer glow.  

Nearby NGC 4394 formed an isosceles triangle with M85 and a field star and was approximately 1/4 the size and brightness as M85.  No structure could be seen, nor the central bar. 


Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts 

For the May Observer’s Challenge I was able to view the galaxies M85 and NGC 4394 together in the eyepiece on the nights of May 13th and May 22nd.  

On the 13th I used a 6-inch refractor under a Bortle 6 sky, with a transparency rating of 3/5 and a seeing rating of 2/5. M85 was obviously brighter at the core, but no orientation was evident, nor was any structure such as arms. NGC 4394 was a significantly dimmer nebulous patch, with brightening towards the center seen with averted vision.

On the 22nd I used a 10-inch Newtonian reflector under a Bortle 7 sky, with a transparency rating of 2/5 and a seeing rating of 2/5. In the 10-inch a new star was visible embedded in the outer nebulosity, and the brighter core of NGC 4394 was now seen with direct vision. 

The poorer sky quality on the 22nd negated most of the advantage of wielding a larger instrument on the targets.

M85 NGC4394 McCabe


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

For many observers, the sheer number of galaxies in the Virgo-Coma Cluster make this area of the sky a difficult one to navigate! I enter these waters by finding the large T-shaped asterism (Containing 6 Coma Berenices.) just to the east of Denebola, Beta Leonis. To find our monthly challenge, I push my telescope north and east to the magnitude 4.7 star, 11 Coma Berenices. Messier 85 can be found a little over a degree to the east and a little north of this star. The galaxy is bright and relatively easy.  I was able to observe this object many times using my 10-inch and 20-inch  scopes. In addition, there are several neighboring galaxies worthy of our attention.  Richard Nugent:  

Observing in these Covid times has been limited to my Framingham home with its typical magnitude 4.8 skies. One evening in April was  particularly clear and offered a NELM closer to magnitude 5.1! On that evening I was using the smaller scope but was able to make observations of not only M85 but it’s neighbors, NGC 4394, 4293, and 4450.

In the 10-inch scope, M85 shows a bright nucleus and an extended diffuse glow. I could bee no hint of any structure. This galaxy is adjacent to the magnitude 10.4 star, BD +18 2609 and is involved with a fainter star, magnitude 13.2 star. This fainter star is near the galaxy’s nucleus and might easily be mistaken for a supernova!

Just 7’ 38” to the East lies the magnitude 10.8, barred spiral, NGC 4394. In the 10-inch scope under the 5.1 magnitude skies this galaxy could be seen with direct vision. It appeared as a faint, uniform, diffuse patch of light. Under the slightly brighter skies, this galaxy took on a ghostly appearance…it’s there most of the time, but it’s location and borders are sometimes difficult to pin down. 

In the 20-inch scope both of these galaxies are quite pretty. In the larger scope, NGC 4394 was easier and could be observed with direct vision. No structure could be seen in either galaxy.

I visited two other neighboring galaxies. Just 1° west of M85 a stream of five, 10th-12th magnitude stars lead to the magnitude 10.8 galaxy, NGC 4293. This 6.2 x 3.7 arcmin, low surface brightness galaxy appeared as an extremely faint diffuse oval glow. Ghostly in the 10-inch scope but easier with the 20-inch. Still, a darker sky would make this galaxy pop out!

Moving 1.3° south-east from M85 lies the magnitude 9.9, spiral galaxy, NGC 4450. This object is brighter than NGC 4293 but still appeared ghostly in the 10-inch scope. In the 20-inch the object was more impressive. The galaxy appeared brighter in the middle, surrounded by a uniform, diffuse glow that was easy to view with direct vision.

Before leaving this area be sure to visit the beautiful double star, 24 Coma Berenices. Just 3-1/2 degrees east of 11 Coma Berenices, this pair of orange and blue, magnitude 5 and 6.3 stars are separated by 20 arcseconds.




Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts 

After a few tries after clouds came to spoil the view, on 5/27 I was able to capture the challenge objects.   Galaxies M85 and NGC 4394.   Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Location : Chelmsford, MA

20 minutes exposure – 8 second subs. Stacked in Sharpcap, flats/darks.

Equipments: 8-inch f/4 reflector with a Zwo533MC , GEM45  

East is to the left, and North is the up. 



NGC 3877 – Galaxy In Ursa Major: April 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #135

February 28, 2020


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York 

April 2020

Report #135

NGC 3877 Galaxy in Ursa Major  

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together”



April Observer’s Challenge Report:


James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

     NGC 3877 is an 11th magnitude spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. To find the galaxy start at the star Megrez, the star where the handle of the Big Dipper connects to the cup.  Follow an arcing line from Megrez through Phecda (bottom star in cup below Megrez) curving south to the third magnitude star El Kaphrah.  The three stars are close to equally spaced with El Kaphrah a tad dimmer than Megrez.  NGC 3877 is a mere 17 arc minutes directly south of El Kaphrah, making it one of the easiest 11th magnitude galaxies to find star hopping.

     NGC 3877 is a nearly edge on spiral galaxy 5.4 arc minutes long and 1.2 arc minutes wide. The galaxy is classified Sc, which means is has a very small core surrounded by whirling spiral arms.  William Herschel discovered NGC 3877 in the year 1788 using his 18.7-inch Newtonian.

     Through an 8-inch telescope the galaxy looks cigar shaped with a bright stellar-looking core.  No detail can be seen in the spiral arms. 

     I imaged NGC 3877 with an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien Cassegrain (with a Televue 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/6.4) using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  The exposure was 180 minutes.

     To image this galaxy with a reflector is tricky because if you don’t get the star El Kaphrah out of the field, the required exposure to pick up the galaxy would cause the star to drown out the image.  In my image the bright star near the top of the image is 8th magnitude SAO43884.  El Kaphrah is outside of the field of view straight above (north) of the galaxy.  During my three-hour exposure, ghost reflections of El Kaphrah appeared on the image as well as two bright diffraction spikes from my secondary mirror spider.  I removed those from the final image.

     About 5 arc minutes to the northwest of the core (upper right) lies a magnitude 9.9 star with four diffraction spikes. Just below this star is a magnitude 16.7 star that is very red in color.  Just at the edge of the lower right diffraction spike is an even very fainted red star shining at magnitude 17.7.  This is one of the faintest stars in the image

     The image picks up the tightly wound spiral arms of the galaxy. In between the arms are several dark dust lanes.  The three stars that appear on the outskirts of the galaxy are Milky Way foreground stars.



Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

Taken last night (March 27-28) through 32-inch telescope.  Five min subs, total 60 minutes integration time. 

Camera is my new ZWO ASI6200.   Processed in PixInsight.   



Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector:  Date: February 22, 2020  

NGC 3877:  Dim slash with very low surface brightness, oriented NE-SW with a subtle brightening in the central region along the highly elongated core.  The galaxy arms show some mottling and uneven texture.  

Pencil sketch:  5 x 8 blank note card with the colors inverted:  



Sue French:  Observer from New York

4-18-2020, 10-inch f/5.9 Newtonian, Seeing: fair. Transparency: good. Gusty wind.

43×: NGC 3877 appears highly elongated and grows gently brighter toward the center.

187×: Sketch. The galaxy grows longer with averted vision, and it harbors an elongated core.



Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts 

The best star-hops are those that require no hopping at all. Such is the case with this month’s Observer’s Challenge, the near edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 3877. Center the magnitude 3.7 star Chi (χ) Ursae Majoris in the field of your scope’s finder and then peer into the eyepiece.  If your eye is properly dark-adapted, you should see an oval haze just ¼ degree to the south.

In March of 1998, a supernova appeared in NGC 3877, quickly reaching 12th magnitude.  It was visible in my 4-inch f/4 rich-field reflector (Edmund Scientific’s Astroscan), as was the galaxy itself.  To see NGC 3877 with such a small aperture demands dark-sky conditions.  In Vol. 2 of The Night Sky Observer’s Guide, authors George Kepple and Glen Sanner note that an 8 to 10-inch scope will reveal the galaxy’s central condensation, while scopes with twice the aperture should bring out the mottled appearance of its outer regions.

NGC 3877 was discovered by William Herschel on the night of February 5, 1788. Along with M109, it belongs to the Ursa Major Galaxy Cluster.  Its distance is variously recorded as 42 to 50 million light years.  If at the latter distance, NGC 3877 would span some 80,000 light-years.

Finder charts for NGC 3877 below.  Bright star in right-hand chart (from AAVSO Variable Star Plotter) is Chi (χ) UMa. Numbers refer to magnitudes of field stars. North is up in this 25′ by 30′ field.



NGC 3877 and supernova 1998S, March 25, 1998. Magnification 74× FOV 20. North is to the right.  Sketch by Glenn Chaple (ATMoB)


Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Object: NGC 3877

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian 

Magnifications: 293x – 488x

Filter: /

Bedingungen: fst 6m5+

Seeing: III

Ort: Sudelfeld

Pencil Sketch with the colors inverted.



Gus Johnson:  Observer from Maryland 

April 1998:  6-inch @ 118x with a first quarter moon.  Highly elongated with a bright core.  When observing with an 8-inch reflector @ 116x, the galaxy appears much brighter than the 6-inch, as to be expected.  However, mottling and unevenness could now be seen in the arms.  


Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts

NCG 3877 is a type Sc spiral galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major and shines at about mag. 12 with a surface brightness somewhere north of mag. 13.  

The galaxy is very easy to find due to its close proximity to the bright star Chi Ursae Majoris, which at mag. 3.7 and located very near the Big Dipper asterism, is easily seen naked eye.

I viewed 3877 on the evening of April 15th, formally known as “Tax Day” in the USA.  The sky was clear with a transparency rating of 3/5, and the seeing was less than optimal with a rating of 2/5.  The temperature was a comfortable 44º F and the wind was calm.  It was quite pleasant for observing.  It should be noted for the record, this observation was made during the peak of the Covid-19 World Pandemic.  Observing alone in one’s yard is a stark contrast to the chaotic situation that the world is enduring at this time, the severity of which is astounding.  Appreciation for being able to still do something enjoyable was not lost on this observer.  

A 10-inch Newtonian reflector was used to make this observation.  At 139x with a 0.43º true FOV, Chi Ursa Majoris easily fit into the field with 3877, making for an interesting view.  Between the brightness of Chi and the dimmest star seen near the galaxy at mag. 13.3, there was a nearly ten magnitude difference in brightness throughout.  But once again the human eye proved up to the task of accommodating the huge dynamic range, something that no camera is capable of doing! 

NGC 3877 appeared as a dim slash, clearly longer than its width, and oriented NE/SW.  No structure, mottling, or brightness variations were noted.  It looked like a little cigar in the view.  

NGC3877 McCabe


Carl Bellitti:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I am a new member of the South Shore Astronomical Society.  I have an EAA setup and still learning the ropes.  A fellow member informed us of the challenge, so I decided to give it a shot.  I have attached an image.

My notes are as following:  

Location: Hanover, MA

Seeing: 3/5

Transparency: 4/5

Bortle: ~5

Time: 9:30 EST

Telescope: 6-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with f/6.3 focal reducer

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T5, 1200D (unmodded)

Exposures: (6) x 30″ live stacked


  • Bright Center clearly visible
  • Galaxy is nearly on it’s edge but probably skewed a bit.  (Somewhat Similar to M82)
  • Alkaphrah is clearly visible and dominates the shot, but adds interest.
  • I had set my expectations low, but results exceeded them.              
  • Image as following:  North is to the left, and West is up.  



Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

Telescope: 10-inch f/5 truss Dobsonian 

I had never before observed this galaxy. So I didn’t know what to expect. I used the Stellarium app on my smartphone to locate this object. It is something that I started using since last year. I can switch my phone to the red night mode and dim the screen.  It works really well to preserve my night vision. I point my red dot finder to the nearest star that’s visible with the naked eye and then I use my phone to star hop from star to object with my lowest power eyepiece. Stellarium pointed me towards Chi Uma.  That shouldn’t be a difficult search.  I switched off the phone and centered Chi Uma in the eyepiece of my 10-inch truss dob. Now what? Where’s the galaxy? Back to Stellarium for another look. It turned out that Chi is a perfect beacon but also a blazing lighthouse in a 24mm eyepiece at 53x. 

I swept over the galaxy’s location without noticing it. Once I knew what to look for, I could detect the galaxy’s dim glow. With 91x, Chi was still present in the fov. And it ruined my night vision once again. Time for a higher magnification. 

With 144x, I could finally separate NGC 3877 from its pesky beacon. I prefer to slowly sweep my target through the fov.  It triggers my dark adapted retina. 

With Chi Uma staying around, it would be useless. I found the best view at 211x. It allowed me to study the core and nucleus of the galaxy in detail. The nucleus appeared not stellar, but rather elongated in the same position angle as the elongated halo. I noticed a small dark arc between the SE-side of the nucleus and the core. Maybe a dust band? The core tappers towards the bar shaped halo. Its SW tip continues as if it forms a spiral arm? The elongated halo doesn’t seem to be symmetrically shaped. I returned to 144x to study the halo’s edges. The NW curved long edge of the halo appears darkened where it nears the nucleus. The SE long edge of the halo is more developed. 

The sketch is based on observations over two nights from my backyard. The nelm was mag 5.2. I observed NGC3877 for about an hour and a half in total. The first night I tried to sketch as much detail as I could. The second night, I returned to the galaxy to check the details of the first encounter. Second visits produce more accurate observations. 

The sketch is a digital reproduction of a raw pencil sketch behind the eyepiece. 

The field of view is 20 arc minutes.  

North is up and West to the right:



Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

On February 22nd @11:25pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 3877 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Average; Seeing: Average. 

NGC 3877 is easy to locate at just 17′ from Al Kaphrah.  At 36x (35mm) there are 4 mag. 8 to 10 stars near Al Kaphrah that form two parallel lines NW to SE lines.  The NW stars of each form a line together with Al Kaphrah in the NE to SW direction.  The SW line of HD102158 and BD+48-1965 point SE to NGC3877 a short 4′ away.  The galaxy looks like a short line with averted vision. It has a NE to SW orientation.

At 115x (11mm) the galaxy is still only visible with averted vision with a NE to SW orientation. The apparent length of the galaxy is slightly shorter than the distance from the galaxy center to nearby BD+48-1965.  There are several 13 mag. stars around the galaxy.  One to the East, one to the NNE, and two to NW just past BD+48-1965

At 270x (4.7mm) the galaxy is very faint but still visible with averted vision.  It is more difficult to determine the length at this magnification.  The core of the galaxy is slightly brighter than the extremities.  I get fleeting moments of seeing a dark lane across the length of the SW side of the galaxy.


Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Image taken on 4/12/2020 from Chelmsford, MA backyard of my house.  

Exposure – 20 minutes. 8-inch reflector, GEM45, ZWO533MC, 8 second subs stacked in SharpCap.

Spiral galaxy with Radial Velocity/Redshift at 902 km/s. 11.8 (mag).  Discovered by William Herschel on February 5, 1788.  Supernova 1998S occurred in NGC 3877 and reached an apparent brightness of magnitude 12.1, thus competing with the entire galaxy 

Hope to get a better view when we get another clear night.  




Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed NGC 3877 twice from dark skies on Cape Cod (3/21 and 4/22), although the second observation on April 22nd was hampered by 20 mph winds.  

I observed with my 10-inch reflector at 89x.  The galaxy is easy to find near the bright star Al Kaphran in Ursa Major.  It is best seen with the star just out of the field. The galaxy is faint, uniform and spindle shaped with 3-4:1 ratio.  I was unable to see any internal structure in either observation.  


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

NGC 3877, galaxy in Ursa Majoris. 

     I had high hopes for this one because it appears to be prominent on Sky Safari 6 Pro.  

     On 29 Feb I was able to observe this galaxy using the ATMoB 25-inch Dob. The galaxy was easily visible at 278x and appeared as a diffuse, elongated glow. Very pretty!

     During an observing session in mid-March using my 20-inch, the galaxy was barely visible at mid to high powers. It was not visible at my lowest power (120x) but the sky’s NELM that evening was a typical (For Framingham, MA) magnitude 4.8 at best.

     On 29 Mar, using my 10-inch Dob, I could just detect the object at 250x while shielding my eyes from extraneous light and using averted vision.  A darker sky is necessary. 

     I had a remarkably good night on 16 April with a NELM of 5.1 and was using my 10-inch scope once again.  This time I successfully observed this galaxy as a faint but easily discernible oval of light.  I was quite surprised but pleased that I could see it! The best view came at 200x.

     The galaxy was not visible on 22 Apr with the 10-inch under a 4.9 magnitude sky.  Of course while using a large Dobsonian I was not surprised to see the galaxy so well.  Getting down to a more typical-sized telescope, it would seem that the key to successfully observing this galaxy is to view it, of course, under dark skies.


John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts.  

     I observed NGC 3877 on 4/11/20 and 4/16/20  from a site in Plymouth, MA.  Both nights were clear, with good transparency.  Seeing was fair, with a noticeable breeze diminishing over the course of both evenings.  Temperature on both nights was in the 40s F. at sunset, dropping into the 30s F. by 11:30 pm.  John Bishop:   

    I was using an 8.25-inch f/11.5 reflector at 48x, 100x, and 193x.

    NGC 3877 was fairly easy to locate. It lies close to Chi Ursa Majoris. At 48x, with Chi UM to one side of the FOV, I saw an obviously elongated hazy patch with a slight brightening in the center. This was NGC 3877.  Increased magnification confirmed the elongated cigar shape.  The bright center was itself slightly elongated, and not very concentrated. 

    At 193x, there was more to see, but the image became less steady.  The image cycled in and out of steady focus. (I assume this was the atmosphere at work).  At steady moments, the galaxy was bigger and brighter, but the surface was not as uniformly bright.  I saw a dark lane cutting at an angle across the arms on the NE side of the core.  The image was soft, but the dark lane was definitely there. 

     After the observing session, I looked at images of NGC 3877 online.  Several images (including nice images by Mario Motta and James Dire) show the dark lane that I observed.  That was cool!

     First time for me observing this interesting object, which lies in a region full of many other interesting objects.




NGC 2859 – Galaxy in Leo Minor: March 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

February 27, 2020


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

March 2020

Report #134

NGC 2859 Galaxy in Leo Minor

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

NGC 2859

NGC 2859 is a double-barred galaxy with an external ring that may be the remains of spiral arms that slowly detached themselves from the galaxy’s interior. Easier to observe, the central region is mostly spanned by a SSE to NNW bar with arcs capping each end, thus giving it a somewhat dumbbell-like appearance. NGC 2859 also hosts a small nuclear bar, nearly perpendicular to the first. The most current measurement places this galaxy at a distance of 93 ± 7 millon light-years.

William Herschel discovered NGC 2859 in 1786. His journal entry reads, “Very bright, much brighter in the middle, round, the brightness confined to a small place; the chevelure extending to about 3′ diameter.” 

Complete Observer’s Challenge Report Link as following:



Dale Holt: Observer from England, 30 miles north of London


Dale introduces himself to challenge participants and readers:  

I use a 505mm f/3.74 Newtonian on a fork mount and an old analogue Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera with custom cooling. The camera is B&W and delivers its image in near real time, typically 15 sec exposure to a CRT monitor in my observatory office where I sketch from the screen. Most commonly I used graphite pencil on sketch paper although sometimes I use white on black hard pastels where the object is nebulous. Post drawing I scan the image and invert using paint. Limiting magnitude of my set up is around 19-20th mag.

I have given many talks over the past 15+ years in the UK on the amazing benefits of video astronomy, which is allowing successful observing in light polluted environments and also the relative increase in the punching power of your scope.










Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Telescope: 27-inch  f /4.2 Newtonian Reflector

Magnification: 172x and 293x

NELM 6.5 +

Seeing: IV

Location: Rossfeld

Pencil sketch as following:



Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I photographed NGC 2859 on March 17, 2020.  The photo through my 8-inch SCT at f/6.3 had a total exposure of 16.5 minutes (33 images, each with 30-second exposure).  Given my modest astrophotography capabilities, the photo is imperfect and not spectacular.  Nevertheless, I am excited to have recorded an image of a galaxy that is over 80 million light-years distant and quite dim (magnitude 12.1 according to my Burnham’s Celestial Handbook).  Furthermore, several of the major features are visible, if only faintly in some cases.  This includes the bright core, the bar, the halo of stars that appears like a bubble around the bar and core, and finally, very faintly, the outer ring of stars (it’s definitely there!).  

On the night I took the images, I could see the galaxy visually, but did not spend much time on direct viewing.  I returned for more detailed visual observation on March 21.  

I found NGC 2859 easy to spot, forming a triangle with two stars in the same field, with the galaxy at a corner with an obtuse angle.  The galaxy appeared small with a stellar-like core.  There was clearly a hint of an extended halo or “nebulosity” surrounding the core.  I could not see the bar or the outer ring.

North is to the left, and west is up: 

NGC2859c Cropped


Sue French:  Observer From New York 

254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian. Seeing: below average. Transparency: good. 

I logged this galaxy a couple times in the past, in 1983 and 2003. My only sketch of the galaxy was made for this Observer’s Challenge on 3-21-20.

At 43×, NGC 2859 was a faint, roundish glow near a yellow-orange, 7th-magnitude star. It was an easy star-hop 41 arcminutes E×N from orange Alpha (α) Lyncis.

A magnification of 115× showed a tiny, very bright nucleus; a small, bright core; and a faint halo.

The sketch was made from the view at 299×. To me, the core plus its bar looked somewhat like a spiral galaxy seen edge-on. This structure was enwrapped in a fainter halo spanning about 1½ arcminutes. There was no sign of the galaxy’s outer ring.

Alan and I took a look at C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) after I was done. It was a large, pretty bright, diffuse glow — maybe a little brighter in the center.



Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

A very interesting galaxy!   Imaged with my 32-inch, total 1 hour imaging time, SBIG 1001E camera.

This galaxy has a “ansae” type bar (which gets brighter at the tips of the bar) and an inner ring, no defined spiral structure, and a detached outer ring. 83 million light-years away, Leo Minor.

Fascinating object, you choose these objects very well, enjoy getting them.



James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 2859 is a rare barred lenticular galaxy located on the southwest edge of the constellation Leo Minor.  The closest bright star is Alpha Lyncis.  The galaxy can be found 40 arcminutes east and 7 arcminutes north of this 3rd magnitude star.  The galaxy shines at magnitude 10.89 and is face-on measuring 4.6 x 4.1 arcminutes in size.

Barred lenticular galaxies like NGC 2859 are disk galaxies with no spiral arms.  The bars in these types of galaxies tend to be brighter at their edges. The bar in NGC 2859 is close to being due north-south as it is tilted only a few degrees to the west on the north side and east on the south side.  The galaxy also has a very faint detached ring beyond the disk containing the bar.  The galaxy’s core is quite bright compared to the rest of the galaxy.  The bar should be visible in 10 to 12-inch telescopes. The faint outer ring is beyond amateur telescopes visually and not counted in the quoted angular size of the galaxy.

I only managed to get one two-hour exposure of NGC 2859 this month due to an unusually cloudy winter here in Central Illinois.  The image was taken with an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien Cassegrain (with an 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/6.4) with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. I stretched the pixels containing the galaxy’s outer, detached ring, more than the rest of the image to make it more apparent. The bright star to the right of the galaxy is magnitude 7.2 SAO61446.  The other bright star, near the bottom of the image, is SAO61457 shining at magnitude 7.7.  

The yellow arrows show three very small faint galaxies captured in the same field of view as NGC 2859.  The one near the top is PGC26663, a magnitude 15.6 galaxy. To its right is magnitude 16.6 PGC3529815.  The third faint galaxy is PGC2048993, which is magnitude 17.6. This third galaxy appears to be an edge on spiral galaxy which appears brighter than the other two because its light is concentrated on a much smaller area.



Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Date: February 21, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector

NELM:  4.9 

Very small, fairly bright, easy to locate and see at 57×.  When increasing the magnification to 208×, this galaxy is elongated, oriented NNW-SSE, however very subtle.  The core is much brighter than the outer round halo, which I could not see.

Pencil sketch:  5 × 8 blank note card with inverted colors.



Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts

On Saturday evening, March 21st, 2020 I was able to view NGC 2859, a barred lenticular galaxy located 83 million light-years away in the constellation Leo Minor. The conditions on this evening were quite good for these parts, with the air temperature hovering around 30ºF, the transparency being at least 3/5, and the seeing around 2/5. I used a 10″ f/5 Newtonian telescope on a dob-style mount for this observation.

Finding the galaxy was a very straightforward process, as it fit into the 42× low power view with the naked-eye bright star Alpha Lyncis. The galaxy was clearly non-stellar at low power with a very bright core, but the nebulosity was not very evident.

Boosting up the magnification to 104× brought out a lot more nebulosity around the core, and that’s where I stopped to make my sketch. The galaxy itself was small and unremarkable, and I wasn’t able to get any sense of the orientation of it with regards to any elongation or direction of the bar.

Additionally, the star field took on an attractive aspect in the sense that it distinctly resembled an oversized version of Messier 29, the ‘cooling tower’ cluster in the constellation Cygnus.



Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts

I observed galaxy NGC 2859 twice from dark skies in Cape Cod.  It was easy to locate with my 10-inch reflector near alpha Lynxis and 2 stars HD 80966 and HD 81057.  It was small faint, round, and with a stellar core.  There was no visible structure other than the core.

I observed it the same night as Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4.  NGC 2859 had a similar appearance to the comet, but the galaxy was fainter and much smaller.


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

NGC 2859 is a nearly 11th magnitude galaxy in Leo Minor. The galaxy is relatively easy to find. I moved  just 2/3 of a degree East of Alpha Lyncis to a pair of orange, 7th magnitude stars, HD80966 and HD81057.  

This galaxy lies just six arcminutes, a little south of East from HD80966.  NGC 2859 is fairly small, being 3 x 3 arcminutes and has a surface brightness of 14.0.  

I observed this month’s object from Framingham, MA (NELM is typically magnitude 4.8) using my 10 and 20-inch reflectors. Also, from the ATMoB site in Westford, MA (NELM overhead is around magnitude 5.1) using the club’s 25-inch telescope.  

The 10-inch scope showed the galaxy at medium and high magnifications.  At low power (50x) the galaxy was very difficult.  With the higher magnifications, it appeared as a small, round, diffuse glow that was brighter in the middle.  I couldn’t see any structure in the galaxy nor the outer ring, as seen in images.

The 20 and 25-inch scopes showed the galaxy better and of course, brighter but I still could not see any of the details visible in images.

All-in-all this is an easy galaxy to find and observe. While not particularly an impressive galaxy, you may still want to put on your yearly, March observing list.


Gary Shaw:  Observer from Massachusetts

Well my humble scope and I were both challenged by NGC 2859. We expected to see the galactic central as a blur – perhaps with highlights at opposing ends indicating the ansae brightening. But instead, we saw a stronger brightening at the ends than expected and saw no ‘bar’ to speak of. When I zoomed way in on the image, I could barely make out a faint bar shape crossing the “gaps” seen between the galactic center and the brightened NW and SE ends of the bar. 

Since capturing the attached image, I’ve had “first light” with a 200mm f/4 Newtonian and will give ole NGC 2859 another try. 

I’ve attached a wide field view and a little watercolor sketch which needs more work than the original observation did. I’m still in awe of everyone’s lovely pencil/charcoal sketches but I’m determined that by the end of 2020, I’ll have found a way to better capture the subtlety of these incredible objects in watercolor. 

I look forward to the April object. 

NGC 2859 Zoom

NGC 2859


John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts

Here is a summary of my efforts to see galaxy NGC 2859….

This month was a good news-bad news experience. The good news was that two clear nights would emerge for observing during the new moon period. The bad news was that, for entirely different reasons, I didn’t see NGC 2859 on either night.

On 3/21/20, I attempted to observe NGC 2859 from the ATMoB Clubhouse in Westford, MA.  The sky was clear; transparency and seeing were decent.  Instead of using my usual 8.25 inch reflector, but for a change of pace I decided to observe with my 5-inch f/8.1 apochromatic refractor.  It has a big heavy mount and tripod.  Perhaps you can guess why I don’t take it out much anymore.

Well, I got a reminder that aperture matters.  As hard as I tried, I could not see NGC 2859 through the 5-inch at any magnification…34x, 57x, 83x, and 138x. 

I understood the object to be somewhat stellar in appearance, but I could not tease out nebulosity around any of the objects in the field. The Apo’s optics are sharp, but that wasn’t enough. The reported surface brightness (Luginbuhl) is beyond the magnitude limit of the 5-inch.  However, the visual brightness is listed as mag. 10.7, so I thought I should be able to see it.  Frustrating!  

In consolation, I did see Comet PanSTARRS.  It was faint and nebulous. It looked like a classic Messier object. To locate the comet, I used a very interesting triple star, Iota Cassiopeia, as a reference point.  One of the components is much dimmer and  smaller than the others.  At least the Apo refractor had no trouble separating the trio.

Slightly mortified by my failure to locate NGC 2859, I made plans to go to the Clubhouse on 3/27/20 with my 8.25-inch reflector and find the object.  It was a clear, steady night.  Ideal, except more terrestrial concerns intervened. 

MIT, which owns the ATMoB Clubhouse, issued a directive prohibiting use of the Clubhouse and observing field until further notice, due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic.  Especially frustrating, because at the moment I do not have another deep-sky observing site. 

This object may get away until next year.


Derek Lowe:  Observer from Massachusetts

We had a couple of clear nights, so I made sure to get out with the 18-inch Dob. The local police came by the field that I had set up in, and agreed with me that you can’t get much more socially distanced, and wished me a good evening.

So to galaxy, NGC 2859. 

I had logged this galaxy several years ago with my 11-inch Dob, and at the time noted that it was easily visible and appeared perfectly round like an unfocused star. I noted a concentrated core and coma, but no particular structure.  

This time around, I could see that the core took up some angular diameter of its own, and that the coma around it extended out further than was first apparent. This took a number of averted-vision passes – direct vision still gave just a fuzzball.  I certainly didn’t see any darkness separating the coma from the core, since the outermost part was quite faint.  What looked like the entire core in a quicker observation back with the 11-inch turned out out to be a brighter point in a round brightness of its own. 

Spending more time on the core itself, I could just barely make out the bar as a sort of brighter vertical streak the exact size of the “inner coma”.  This wasn’t easy to pick out, but every few tries it came into view.  A good example of an object that has a lot to see, once you know that it’s worth spending the time to dig them out!



NGC 1931 – Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga: February 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

January 23, 2020



Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

February 2020

Report #133

NGC 1931 Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga 

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


   The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

NGC 1931 

NGC 1931 is a small emission and reflection nebula with an involved cluster. The brightest part of the nebula has a trapezium system at its heart. Somewhat at odds with their name, trapezium systems can consist of more than four stars, and they don’t have to be arrayed in a trapezoidal shape. The term was initially coined to mean “a multiple star system whose pairwise separations are of the same order.” Some later researchers include groups whose stars may not be gravitationally bound. NGC 1931 is roughly 7500 light-years away from us.

William Herschel discovered this NGC 1931 in 1793. His journal entry reads, “Very bright, irregularly round, about 4 or 5′ diameter. Seems to have one or two stars in the middle or an irregular nucleus. The chevelure diminishes very gradually


February Observer’s Challenge Final:  Click on the Following link: 

February 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _ NGC 1931

February:  NGC 1931 – Bright  Nebula and Cluster – Auriga; Mag. V= 10.1;  Size 6′ 

RA:  05h  31m   Dec.  +34º  14′ 


The embedded Stars in NGC 1931:  by Sue French   

     Don’t be surprised about not seeing the stars in NGC 1931.  Folks get very mixed results.  Go to and type NGC 1931 in the Designation box, then look at everyone’s sketches.  

     Here’s a long-ago Amastro post from Brian Skiff that gives the magnitudes of the trapezium system embedded in the brightest part of the nebula.  I see one of these stars, or a blend of them, in the 105mm scope.  The 10-inch at 213× gives me six stars in the brightest part of the nebulosity plus several mag 11-13½ stars scattered to the south.  I’ve pasted an image below Brian’s data and labeled the stars on it.  The image is in infrared so that the nebulosity doesn’t blot out the stars. Below the Aladin image is a WEBDA chart showing which stars I saw in the main group through the 10-inch..

     While cleaning up some star-lists, I collected data for stars in the nebulous open cluster NGC 1931 in Auriga.  The group contains a faint trapezium system, ADS 4112, that might be of interest to ‘amastro’ folks. The specs for the group are shown below.  The V magnitudes for the stars come from modern photoelectric or CCD studies.  The separations derive from positions in the 2MASS catalogue, which should be better than the 100-year-old visual micrometry, but which in any case match the old data to within a few tenths of an arcsecond. The brighter trio is straightforward in a small telescope; in 1989 I was able to make out the fourth ‘E’ component very faintly in my 6-inch refractor at 200x.  The very faint, close ‘D’ companion to star ‘B’ doubtless requires a very large aperture.  The data quoted for it is from S. W. Burnham’s work; the magnitude is possibly too bright.  The 2MASS coordinates are listed at the bottom.  Star ‘D’ does not appear in any astrometric catalogue.  The spectral types for the three brightest stars, by the way, are B0V, B0.5V, and B1V.  Thus the object should contain some emission, although there must be a substantial reflection component, since filters do not provide much contrast enhancement.   



ADS 4112 = BD+34 1074:  5 31 27  +34 14.9 (2000)

V mags      sep    pa

AB  11.5,12.3    8″.1  239

AC       13.0   10″.5  310

AE       14.0   14″.6   17

BD      (15.8)   2″.3  322


RA   (2000)   Dec

A   5 31 27.08  +34 14 49.6

B   5 31 26.54  +34 14 45.0

C   5 31 26.43  +34 14 56.3

E   5 31 27.50  +34 15 03.2


Sue French: Observer from New York

254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian. Seeing: fair. Transparency: a little better than average.

43×: NGC 1931 is just a short hop westward from starfish-like M36. It presents a small hazy spot surrounding a star.

115×: The nebula spans about 3 arcminutes, and the star now appears triple. Several additional stars straggle south through west-southwest of the nebulous mass.

213×: Six stars are now buried in the nebulosity, three brightest members arranged in a little triangle.

The WEBDA cluster plot below marks the four trapezium-system stars viewed as well as two additional stars spotted within the nebula.

V-magnitudes of the trapezium stars according to WEBDA:

A=11.4, B=12.3, C=13.0, E=14.0. There is a component D in the trapezium system very close to B, but it’s thought to be magnitude 15.8 or dimmer and was not seen. The two arrowed stars were visible: the northern one shining at magnitude 14.1, and the southern one at magnitude 14.5.

After the star-plot is the sketch I made at 213× with the 10-inch scope on 17 February 2020 at 7pm EST. It was a pleasant night for February. The temperature was in the lower 20s and there was no wind. Unfortunately the seeing and transparency were both below average, and there was full snow cover on the ground. I couldn’t see the 14.5-magnitude star mentioned in the previous observation. I decided to sketch just the part of the nebula I could see and the four stars visible within it. My sketch looked pretty good to me, but a scanned image didn’t show the faintest parts, so I penciled over the original sketch to make it scan better, I hope without changing anything too much.

fullsizeoutput_1236Pencil Sketch:  Sue French:

North is up and west to the right




Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

Taken with my 32-inch telescope, and SBIG STL 1001E camera.  One hour of H-alpha, one hour of Sulfur S2 filters, and only 20 minutes of O3 filter as there was essentially no Oxygen signal.

Processed in PixInsight.



Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina 

On the night of January 28, 2020, the transparency and seeing were very good.  Using my 10-inch, f/4.5 reflector, NGC 1931 was very easy to locate and see at 57×, appearing as a star with a mostly round halo of nebulosity. 

When increasing the magnification to 267×, using a 12mm eyepiece and a 2.8× Barlow, the bright nucleus revealed a tiny trio of faint stars, with a fourth, much fainter star, toward the WSW.  This fourth star was extremely difficult, and could not be held constantly, but intermittently at best.  The nebula was elongated, with a NE-SW orientation.  

The first time I observed NGC 1931 was with poor seeing, on January 8, 1994, and could not see the trio of stars.  My second attempt to see the trio of stars was in January, 2020, but again with poor seeing and transparency, and was unable to see any of the faint stars.   

Pencil sketch, with the colors inverted:   





We welcome our newest participant, Uwe Glahn of Germany:  

Uwe Glahn is an accomplished German observer whose sketches are a joy to behold. They appear in many publications, including my own articles. In the Interstellarum Deep Sky Guide alone, there 821 sketches penciled by Uwe and co-author Ronald Stoyan. You can view Uwe’s remarkable sketches on his website and learn more about his technique, telescopes, and achievements by putting that URL in Google translate   –  Sue French


Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian @ 293×.

Seeing: IV, NELM 7.0+

NGC 1931 and Parsamian 1 (a cometary nebula in southern part of NGC 1931)





Gus Johnson: Observer from Maryland

Could not see NGC 1931 on a clear night with a 5-inch at 24×. I also attempted with an H-beta filter at 30× and a UHC filter, however to no avail.  On another night in February 1985, I saw it with an 8-inch reflector @ 40×. Small, fairly bright mostly round nebulosity. Could not see the small trapezium of stars.


Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts

I observed NGC 1931 in Auriga on February 21, 2020.  I observed with my 10-inch reflector under dark skies on Cape Cod.  It was best seen with a 14mm eyepiece at 88×. 

The cluster was found near Phi Aurigae, between M36 and M38. I saw a loose collection of approximately 10 stars (probably background stars) with one brighter star surrounded by a small area of nebulosity. I did not see multiple stars in the cluster itself, but in retrospect may not have used high enough magnification.  Overall, it was much less impressive than its nearby Messier clusters in Auriga, but still interesting to see for the first time.


James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1931 is a mixed emission and reflection nebula with an embedded star cluster found in the constellation Auriga. The nebula is an active star forming region. The complex is located about one degree west and a tad north of the star cluster M36. NGC 1931 also lies 5.75 degrees north and one degree east of the star Elnath. NGC 1931 measures roughly 3 arcminutes in size and lies 10,000 light years away. The nebula is estimated to be magnitude 10.

NGC 1931 contains myriad young, hot O and B stars whose radiation is responsible for the blue hues of the reflection nebula. Four stars in the center of the nebula form a trapezium similar to that in the Orion Nebula. Sometimes NGC 1931 is considered a mini version of the Orion Nebula. A much larger vast region of nebulosity known as IC 417 surrounds NGC 1931. The emissions from IC 417 are the characteristic red colors from H II ions.

My image of NGC 1931 was taken with an 8-inch Ritchey–Chrétien telescope operating at f/6.4 with the use of a focal reducer/field flattener. The camera used was an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD cooled to -20°C. The exposure was 100 minutes. The bright white area in the center contains the trapezium. The exposure was not long enough to bright out the red emissions of IC 417, which would have filled most of the region captured in this image.



Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts  

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the observer’s challenge as I’ve been busy with other projects, so it felt good this past Saturday to prepare my charts and do a little research on the object at hand. 

I conducted this observation from Nike Field which is located in Rehoboth, MA. The conditions were pretty good for these parts – maybe a Bortle 5 sky with transparency starting at 3/5 and dropping off to 2/5, and the seeing fluctuated between 2/5 and 3/5 throughout the evening. 

I made my observation using a 10-inch f/5 Newtonian reflector. NGC 1931 is a tiny emission and reflection nebula that is said to be a miniature version of the Orion Nebula, replete with a trapezium of stars and all. 

The target was easy enough to find and showed up right away as a small fuzzy at medium powers, but all my research suggested cranking it up, so I bumped up the magnification to 250× and set down to make my sketch. If there is indeed a trapezium at the center of the nebulosity it was lost on me – the best I could do was what appeared to be three stars, and the nebulosity was there with direct vision but bloomed up nicely with averted vision. The brightest star of the bunch in the .25º TFOV was about magnitude 11 with all others coming in dimmer than that. The size of the object itself spanned no more than about 4′ on the sky, so really quite small.



Viadislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts

Date: Jan 20, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Using: 22-inch f/3.3 DOB with a 21mm eyepiece (~88×, FOV~65′), 10mm (~185×, FOV~33′), NV intensifier (~92×, FOV~26′)

Filter:  5nm Ha filter used with NV intensifier

Notes: Stars in the open cluster seems to be forming line and arch patterns (or is it my brain forming them?).  Only the core of the nebula could be seen in 21mm and 10mm eyepieces. It looks like elliptical galaxy. When switching to NV intensifier with 5nm Ha filter, I was able to see extended nebulosity around the core, forming U-shaped halo.



Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Sketch:  NGC 1931, as seen with 4.5-inch f/8 reflector at 150×. Field diameter is 0.4 degrees.


On an evening with a magnitude limit of 5 and so-so seeing conditions, I viewed NGC 1931 by star-hopping from 5th magnitude phi (φ) Aurigae. With my 4.5-inch f/8 reflector and a magnifying power of 150×, I could make out what appeared to be a 10th magnitude nebulous “star.” A switch to a 10-inch f/5 scope and 208× brightened the nebula and split the star 

(HJ 367), magnitudes 11 and 12, separation 8 arc-seconds), but atmospheric turbulence prevented me from seeing any other embedded stars.  Glenn  


Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts

I live stacked NGC 1931 with my EAA rig on January 29th. I set up at a nearby athletic field in Sudbury MA for better horizons. Once setup, my system could be operated remotely, so I placed my control tablet on the folded-down passenger seat of my car and I was able to comfortably sit, view and control from the back seat while being shielded from most of the elements (still bundled up for the cold). 

When I slewed to NGC 1931 using short, 2-second exposures, I was able to detect a little bit of nebulosity around the central stars. I zoomed into the live view to look at the stars. I decreased the rolling exposure to 1s, 0.5s then to 0.25s to try and split the SW “trapezium” star. But no luck. It was definitely elongated, but no separation. Maybe a bigger image scale would do it.

After examining the central stars I set the exposure to 8s and began live stacking. As it stacked the red/pink emission nebulosity surrounding the central stars became much more visible. After playing with the histogram stretch the structure of the surrounding gas and dust started to show up. There were darker, opaque areas just to the north and SE of the cluster and there was a faintly rim-lit area farther out to the SW. The faint blue reflection nebula around the mag 11.1 star 3.5′ south of the cluster was also visible; it was much fainter than the emission nebula around the cluster. 



Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

On January 26th @ 7:28pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 1931 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Fair; Seeing: Average.

With Auriga approaching zenith, I was able to detect the approximate location of Phi Aurigae and its associated cluster with naked-eye averted vision. Centering this area in a 35mm 1.9º FoV, the NGC 1931 cluster was visible at the Eastern edge of the view.

At 115× (11mm 0.71º FoV) there is a group of mag. 11 stars forming a square with corners in the NE, SE, SW, & NW directions (TYC 2411-1002-1, TYC 2411-2115-1, TYC 2411-2320-1, & BD+34 1074A). The NW star of the square has visible nebulosity around it. A close pair of mag. 11 stars (TYC 2411-2086-2 & TYC 2411-0996-1) are located to the East of the SE star of the square. Two more mag. 11 stars sit to the West of the square. One West of the SW corner (TYC 2411-2209-1), and one West of the NW corner (TYC 2411-2224-1).

At 270× (4.7mm 0.3º FoV) the NW star (BD +34 1074A) of the square has a small concentration of nebulosity around it. It makes a cone from the East side of the star and spreads out a short distance arcing between the North and West. Three stars of the tight trapezium cluster containing BD +34 1074 A and B are easily split and visible. A 4th star, mag. 14, was sporadically visible when the seeing settled.


Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed NGC 1931 in my 8-inch SCT and 9mm eyepiece, on January 29 and February 23, 2020. The object appeared to me as a small, sparse, open cluster with a surrounding area of nebulosity, with the brightest part of the nebula apparently south of the main cluster. In the center of the nebula is a pair of relatively bright stars, which I was able to see with direct vision (as opposed to averted vision) after studying the object for a few minutes. With averted vision, I was able to see a third star northwest of the pair.

While not the “object of the month,” I decided to check out nearby NGC 1893. This is also a cluster and nebula, but much brighter, with an elongated, curved shape.


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

The nebula is visible through the 10-inch as a small, faint, amorphous glow surrounding a small, nearly equilateral triangle with stars of 11th, 12th, and 13th magnitude. On 28 February 2020, skies were very stable with the 5th and 6th stars of M42’s Trapezium visible through the 10-inch scope at 250×. NGC 1931 showed the nebulosity even at 50×; however, the 13th magnitude star of the triangle was only visible at 250× with averted vision.

Earlier in the month, the 20-inch telescope showed the three stars easily, with two 14th magnitude stars straddling the triangle and a slight hint of a nearby 15th magnitude star.

With Steve Clougherty’s 18-inch telescope, the 15th magnitude star was visible with averted vision. Through the club’s 25-inch scope, that star could be viewed with direct vision. The skies in Westford have about a 0.5-magnitude advantage over those in Framingham.

NGC 1931 With Magnitudes - Mar 5 2020 - 10-34 AM







NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

January 23, 2020



Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital…

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NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

December 12, 2019




Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

NGC 1999 is a bright, 2′ reflection nebula embedded in the southeastern reaches of the more diffuse, 10′ reflection/emission region IC 427. Clasped near its heart, the variable star V380 Ori provides the nebula’s illumination, its visual magnitude varying from magnitude 9.5 to 11 during the past decade. A dark patch shaped somewhat like a chess pawn trends west-southwest from the star. It was long thought to be a type of dark nebula known as a Bok globule, but recent studies show that this inky spot is most likely a dark cavity within the reflection nebula.

Sir William Herschel discovered NGC 1999 on October 5, 1785.His journal entry from that date reads: “A star with a very strong burr all around.”


January:  NGC 1999 – Refection Nebula with hole – Orion; Mag. V=9.5;  Size 2′ 

RA:  05h  36m   Dec.  -06º  43′  

Finalized Observer’s Challenge Report:  JANUARY 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _ NGC 1999

Reports to-date:  “Work File” for organization of final report:  


Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Processed NGC 1999 (Keyhole Nebula) which is the January Observer’s Challenge object.   I did not realize how much dust and gas surrounding area, when imaged. 

This is a total of 166 minutes of H alpha, Sulfur, and O3 filters.  Not much O3 in the final.  Mostly hydrogen with some sulfur.

I’ve sent a B&W composite, and also color.  All taken with my 32-inch f/6 telescope, with STL 1001E SBIG camera. 15×15 arc minute view for scale, the actual keyhole is small, but very bright, the surrounding dust/gas is faint

Processed in PixInsight.    Mario Motta 




Vladislav Mlch:  Observer from Massachusetts

January 2020 Observer’s Challenge report:

Object: NGC 1999

Date: Dec 28, 2019

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 21mm eyepiece  (~88x, FOV~65 arcminutes, and a 6mm (~300x, FOV~18 arcminutes)

Filter:  No filter used

Notes: Nebula looks like a “blue snowball” in the 21mm eyepiece and it looks like a “big snowball” in 6mm eyepiece. At 300x one can see dark nebula in the middle of the snowball, shaped like Texas. There is a bright core next to the dark nebula.



Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Reflection nebula, NGC 1999 is easy to locate and see at all magnifications, with a 10-inch reflector.  The nebula has a fairly high surface brightness.   

At a magnification of 104x, the reflection nebula appears as a bright circular haze, with a much brighter concentrated center.  When increasing the magnification to 256x, the illumination star V380 which is variable (mag. 9.5 to 11.0) can be easily seen, appearing a little east of the center.  

The offset of this star brightens the eastern section of the nebulous halo, causing the appearance of greater concentration and being brighter.  

After spending two hours, I could not see the dark void or hole just to the west of the variable illumination star.  However, I believe with better seeing this “noted” feature would have been possible, using the 256x magnification, but on this night, stars were very soft and bloated.   Pencil sketch as following:

NGC 1999 Roger


Joseph  Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts  

I observed NGC 1999 on January 15, 2019 on Cape Cod.  I again used my 10-inch  reflector under dark but hazy skies. 

The object was easily found by star hopping from Iota Orionis.  There was an asterism appearing like a reverse 3 or a question mark that pointed to the nebula. 

When using a low magnification of 45x, it appeared like a fuzzy star.  At higher power of 153x, there was a compact nebulosity around a star, seen best with averted vision, while with direct vision it appeared almost stellar.  With averted vision I was able to see the hole with difficulty just adjacent to the central star.     


James R. Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1999 is a bright reflection nebula containing a very dark nebula, all part of a vast region of molecular clouds located in Orion. NGC 1999 can be found by following Orion’s Sword south one and one-third degrees past the Trapezium. The brightest part of NGC 1999 glows colorless or white over a region 16 x 12 arcminutes in size. Embedded within this region is a dense dark area, triangular shaped, a few arcminutes on each side.

Finding NGC 1999 in January 2020 from Peoria, Illinois proved difficult due to the weather. The month only offered up one clear night with no interfering moon. On that night, I ventured out to my observatory 20 miles northwest of downtown Peoria, located in a state park. I arrived at sunset. The temperature was 18°F and there was several inches of snow that fell two nights earlier, followed by freezing rain making everything icy and crusty.

I cleared the snow off of my Sky Shed Pod and opened the roof.

Orion was still fairly low in the southwest, so I spent a couple of hours imaging the NGC 708 galaxy cluster before turning my attention to NGC 1999.

The seeing was terrible, around 4 arcseconds, but the transparency was quite good. I imaged NGC 1999 using an 8-inch f/6.4 Ritchey–Chrétien reflector with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. 

I combined nine 10-mininute exposures to create the accompanying image of NGC 1999. During he exposure, Orion was embedded in the light pollution over Peoria. I normally only photograph objects to the north or west where the light pollution is minimal. But the only way to capture this image was towards the city, were the sky glow is at its worst. This along with the poor seeing made for an image that left a lot to be desired.

Our observatory complex does not have a warm room. So I put a space heater plugged into shore power under the hatch in the back of my Subaru and folded down one back seat to use as a desk while I sat in the other back seat. With my laptop in the car plugged into a power strip along with a Wi-Fi router, I connected remotely to the computer in the dome to control the telescope and camera. The space heater kept the temperature in the car warm enough so I could remove my hat and gloves and unzip my winter coat. By the time I left at 11:15 p.m., the outside temperature was 14° F. As you might guess, it was much too cold outside to set up a telescope and view NGC 1999 through an eyepiece. But I believe my image captured similar detail that I would have seen in my 14-inch, f/6 Dobsonian.



John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On January 22, 2020 I observed reflection nebula NGC 1999 from the ATMoB Clubhouse in Westford, MA. The sky was clear, with transparency and seeing being only fair. The temperature was around 30ºF at sunset, but dropping to 18º by 9:30 pm.

I observed with my 8.25-inch f/11.5 reflector (210/2415) at 48×, 130×, and 193×. I did not use any filters.

This is a rich area of the sky. Showcase object, M42 is close by, as are two pretty clusters, NGC 1981 and NGC 1980. NGC 1999 did not require much star hopping to locate. Using my 2-inch barrel, 50mm eyepiece at 48×, I briefly swept the field just south of NGC 1980. 

Almost immediately, I noticed a small patch of nebulosity surrounding a star-like object. It looked different than the nearby field stars. This was NGC 1999, but initially I was not quite sure what it was – nebula? cluster?  At low power, the bright core and nebulosity even gave it the appearance of a very distant or compact galaxy.

Higher magnification produced a larger, brighter image. At 193×, the nebula was more or less round. The bright core, which did not resolve, was slightly elongated and a little flattened on one side. I believe this was the “keyhole” silhouetting the bright core, although I could not see the keyhole itself.

One twist on this evening’s session was that I had to observe without the benefit of the motor drive on my equatorial mount. The connecting plug to my power source broke during setup, there was no spare. Usually I can lock onto an object and observe it at my leisure. I missed that luxury, as NGC 1999 flew by in the field of view, especially at 193×. 

I tip my hat to my Dobsonian colleagues who always track by hand.  The observing session ended early due to clouds rolling in. I would like to observe this object again to try to see the keyhole. I would also like to try observing this object with filters.  


Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On December 20th I live-stacked NGC 1999 from the clubhouse in Westford, MA. I was using an 8-inch f/4 Newtonian with a coma corrector, and an ASI294MC-Pro camera. 

NGC 1999 was just barely visible in the 4-second framing exposures, when I switched to 8 seconds and started live stacking it really came to life. The crisp keyhole shape punched out of the soft reflection nebula was sharply defined. 

NCG 1999 is imbedded in the same complex of gas and dust as the Orion nebula. This thick and soupy home results in some very intriguing surroundings. As the short 8-second frames continued to add to the stack, other objects started to appear out of the murky darkness. 

Immediately south of NGC 1999 there are the two red glowing gashes of Herbig-Haro object 1 & 2. These are jets of ionized gas ejected by a newborn star! To the north of NGC 1999 is the extremely faint diffuse blue glow of IC 427, farther north beyond that is the brighter golden glow of IC 428.



Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I finally got my first scope, very first camera, and mount.  It was my decision to hold off from buying any devices for a year, since the time I first decided to take up astronomy as a hobby.  My first light was on January 17, 2020, with below freezing, New England temperatures, with a clear night at the clubhouse. 

Tools used:  IOptron GEM45, 8-inch f/4 Newtonian with a comma corrector, ZWO ASI 533 cooled color (gain at 80%, 8-15 seconds exposures for about 30 minutes).  I let sharpcap do the work, and used a bahtinov mask for focusing.  No darks, flats or bias.  I was glad to have been successful in getting NGC 1999 on the first try.  I think the colors did not stretch correctly.  (Thanks to Corey Mooney for helping me with the astrophotography set up).



Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Observing from my Framingham location the NELM is typically around magnitude 4.8 however, snow cover reduces it to around magnitude 4.4.  With my 10-inch, f/4.7 Dobsonian I could easily see the star V380 Orionis, but could not detect any hint of the accompanying nebulosity. 

I tried varying the magnification, but to no avail. Nor did the use of filters (80a, UHC, and OIII) help.

Under similar conditions I observed the object with my 20-inch Dobsonian. With this telescope the nebulosity was visible at all magnifications. It appeared as a faint, diffuse, uniform glow with no definite border. I could not detect the hole in the nebula.

I would suggest that NGC 1999 requires a dark sky location to be fullyappreciated.


Gus Johnson:  Observer from Maryland 

February 1985:  8-inch reflector @ magnification of 75x, appearing as a faint mostly round nebula with center star.  Also could see using 40x and a UHC filter.    

February 1986:  4.25-inch reflector, easily located and visible, despite a five day moon.  Very easy with 8-inch reflector.  


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On January 26th @ 8:07pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 1999 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 4.5; Transparency: Fair; Seeing: Average.

I attempted to observe NGC 1999 while battling with partly cloudy skies that repeatedly obscured Orion. I was able to observe it several times at low power, but I was never able to switch to high power before more clouds moved in. 

NGC 1999 is easy to locate since the southern edge of M42 and Nair al Saif fit in the 1.9°FoV of my 35mm eyepiece. Placing Nair al Saif on the NNW edge of the view and d Orionis on the SE edge drops NGC 1999 right in the middle.

At 36× (35mm 1.9˚FoV) there is a line of 3 magnitude 8 to 9 stars stretching 44 arcminutes from the SW to the NE (HD 36813, HD 37001, and HD 37131). There are two magnitude 10 stars perpendicular to this line about 20 arcminutes SE of HD 37001. The two stars are TYC 4778-1138-1 and V380 Orionis. V380 is the further of the two stars to the SE and has visible nebulosity surrounding. That’s the bright core of NGC 1999.

At 115× (11mm 0.71°FoV) the nebulosity of NGC 1999 around V380 Orionis is visible with direct vision. The nebulosity quickly fades just a short distance from the star. The center of the glow seems to be slightly offset towards the SW direction from the star. I am unable to see the keyhole feature at this magnification.








IC 1805 – “Cluster + Nebula” In Cassiopeia – December 2019 – Observer’s Challenge Report #131

November 23, 2019




Report #131

IC 1805 Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

Observer’s Challenge Report Final:  Click on the following link



Note:  The following are mostly original notes, with very little if any editing, to preserve the feelings and thoughts of the observer during the observation.  This is not the “official” Observer’s Challenge report, but what I call a “work-file” just to organize the entries.  Roger Ivester

     IC 1805 is a 6.5-magnitude cluster about 62 stars that spans about 20 arcminutes. It’s nearly centered on the group’s brightest member, HIP 11832 shining at magnitude 7.1. The cluster is young at only 2.5-million years and we see it at a distance of roughly 6,500 light-years. IC 1805 is enveloped in and associated with the emission nebula Sharpless 2-190, commonly called the Heart Nebula, which sprawls across 1.6 º of sky.

     Edward Emerson Barnard discovered IC 1805 photographically and included it on the first two plates of his wonderful Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way.  The atlas can be viewed online at:     Intro by Sue French  


IC 1805, December 2019, Observing Report by Mario Motta:

B&W image of IC 1805:  An H alpha image taken through my 6-inch refactor in 2015 for wide field. And has 7,  20 min subs, so 2 hours 20 min of H alpha.  

Color Image:  This was combined with 1 hour each of Oxygen 2 filter and Sulfur filter:  See attached.

IC 1805 (the Heart Nebula), North is to the right on this image, rotated to show the “heart” shape more readily.

Of course…to a cardiologist the Right heart (on the left, person facing you), is very “enlarged” so this is a rather sick heart, with what I would call right heart failure.    Mario Motta 





Sue French: Observer from New York:

14×70 binoculars:

IC 1805 is a fairly large, loose open cluster of six to eight moderately bright stars, depending on the borders, plus about 15 more stars on the backdrop.

105/610mm (4.1-inch f/5.8) refractor

     17×: Nebulosity is faintly visible without a filter, a little better with a UHC filter, and very nice with an O III filter. The brightest areas include: the IC 1805 cluster; a wide arc that runs between clusters IC 1805 and NGC 1027 and then loops around north of the IC 1805 cluster; and a small patch in the position of the nebula complex NGC 896/IC 1795. A fainter arc starts between the two clusters, loops around south of cluster IC 1805 and then northward on the western side of this cluster.  Both loops are quite patchy with very uneven brightness. Nebulosity also stretches from cluster IC 1805 to the eastern loop.

     87×: About 40 stars are visible in cluster IC 1805. Its brightest member is a double star, residing in a rough circlet of fainter suns at the cluster’s heart. Arms of stars starting north and south of the circlet curve westward. Two fairly bright stars northeast form a faint star with the lucida.  A broad scattering of stars straggle east through southeast from the circlet, while extremely faint specks of light can be seen within the circlet and rounding out the group.

     The double star is Stein 368 AB (STI 368 AB), PA 97º, separation 9.9″, component magnitudes 8.0 and 10.1. NGC 1027 displays about 50 stars centered on the group’s central lucida. Starting north-northwest of the star, its brightest attendants spiral outward from it for about 1½ turns.

     These observations were made in the northern Adirondack Mountains of New York, where my naked-eye limiting magnitude near Polaris was 6.3.


Roger Ivester:  Observer From North Carolina 

     In November I used a 6-inch f/6 reflector in an attempt to see the nebula in IC 1805. My eyepiece of choice for this night was a 2-inch-barrel 26mm with an O III filter. This gave me a field of view of 2º. 

     Scanning the area before using the O III filter, I first saw open cluster NGC 1027. A bright cluster at magnitude 6.7, consisting of about 20 stars with one brighter member located in the center. This cluster is located just to the east of IC 1805. 

     Now to IC 1805: I could easily see the cluster of stars located in the central region of the IC 1805 nebula. When adding an O III filter, I scanned the area for more than an hour; however, I cannot say definitively that I could see any nebulosity.

     On December 15, 2019, I used an 80mm f/5 refractor, with a 24mm eyepiece and a UHC filter. I was a bit dubious before beginning my observation that I’d be able to see the IC 1805 nebula based on my results using a 6-inch reflector only a month earlier, and with similar sky conditions. 

     After about thirty minutes, I could not see any of the nebula, but the central stars were easy and bright. However, when I began using my “manual” slow-motion controls, I began scanning across the IC 1805 area, and to my surprise, I began seeing very faint brightenings in the area. I scanned one section at a time, and was able to sketch extremely faint tentacles and fingers of nebulosity, only marginally brighter than the background. After more than two hours of “slow-motion” scans, well over two hundred crossings, I was able to sketch some of the brighter sections, encircling the central cluster. 


Roger IC 1805

Telescope: 80mm f/5 achromatic refractor 

Eyepiece: 24mm + UHC filter 

Sketch Magnification: 17× 

Field of View: ~3.5º 


James Dire:  Observer From Illinois 

     The Heart Nebula, IC 1805, is part of a vast complex of nebulae located in the constellation Cassiopeia. The nebula is located five degrees southeast of the star Segin and eight degrees east of the star Ruchbah. Segin and Ruchbah are the two easternmost stars making up Cassiopeia’s “W” asterism. 

     The brightest part of the Heart Nebula is separately known as NGC 896. NGC 896 was discovered by William Herschel in 1787 using his 18.7-inch reflector. NGC 896 measures 27 x 13 arcminutes and is estimated to be magnitude 10.

     The Heart Nebula itself extends about one degree in both right ascension and declination. The Heart Nebula lies 7500 light years away in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

     IC 1805 is also the designation of an open star cluster in the middle of the Heart Nebula. This cluster is also known as Melotte 15. This loose open cluster is estimated to be a mere 1.5 million years old and contains several bright stars 50 times the Sun’s mass. These stars are responsible for exciting the hydrogen gas in the Heart Nebula resulting in the red glow as seen in photographs.

     My image of IC 1805 was taken with a 71 mm f/4.9 apochromatic refractor using an SBIG STF-8300C CCD Camera. The exposure was 140 minutes. In the image north is up and east to the left.

     The second image has labels pointing out the location of NGC 896 and the central star cluster in IC 1805. Two more open clusters are labeled in the image. The first is NGC 1027 located on the east side of the heart. NGC 1027 is a bright rich cluster of approximately 50 stars all within a 20 arcminute circle. The cluster has a total magnitude of 6.7. The other cluster is called Markarian 6 and is located southwest of the heart. Markarian 6 is magnitude 7.1 and is 6 arcminutes in diameter. All three star clusters contained in the nebula are worthy of inspection with any telescope at medium to high powers.

     My best view of the Heart Nebula was with my 14-inch f/6 Dob using a 26mm eyepiece (82x). This combination provides a one-degree true field of view. While the view comes nowhere close to my image, it was possible to see many of the brighter regions of the nebula, especially NGC 896 and the three above-mentioned star clusters.    




Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts

     I was not certain I would do any observing this month, as we have been having a lot of cloudy nights, and it has been an unusually cold December. I have become reluctant to brave the cold in recent years.  

     Tonight (12/20/19) was so clear, with no moon, and at least not quite as frigid as earlier this week, that I decided to venture out.  Nevertheless, by the time I came inside, the temperature had dropped to 17 degrees F.  

     IC 1805 is an open cluster surrounded by a large nebula.  I observed it with my 8-inch SCT and a 25 mm eyepiece (my largest/lowest power), which has a field somewhat less than 1º field of view.    

     The cluster is fairly sparse, with six bright stars and perhaps a couple dozen dimmer stars visible.  Near the center is an oval-shaped group of stars.  About 1 degree southwest of the cluster is an interesting asterism of five stars shaped like a backwards “J”.  

     A hint of nebulosity was apparent within and surrounding the cluster.  This was more obvious after used a UHC filter on the eyepiece.  

     Because the nebula is considerably larger than my field of view, I slewed in all directions from the cluster to explore it.  In general, the nebulosity appeared to extend a couple of degrees in each direction, before the sky background became fairly dark, indicating I was no longer within the nebula.  

     About 1 degree east of the cluster, I saw a bright star and the brightest knot of nebulosity.  To the north of the cluster the nebulosity also appeared bright and mottled in some areas.  In the northern area, I possibly saw a narrow filament of brighter gas, oriented east-west.

     I can see why a wide-field telescope (which I unfortunately do not have) would be a good instrument for this object.    


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

     On November 30th @6:52pm ESTA, I used a 102 mm f/7 refractor to observe IC 1805 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Above Average; Seeing: Poor.

     I found IC 1805 in the Dobsonians that tried by star hopping from Segin and heading SE via triangle of mag. 8 stars (HD 12623, HD 12819, and HD 12568) and a zigzag group of mag. 7 and 8 stars containing HD 13686. Several bright mag. 6 and 7 stars surround IC 1805, and the center cluster of it is quite bright so it’s easy to tell when you’ve found it. The refactor I used for this observation was on a goto mount, so it felt a bit like cheating compared to my usual reflector observations.

     At 20x (35 mm, 3.4˚FoV) The central cluster of IC 1805 is composed of 10 bright mag. 7 to 8 stars. There are two parallel North/South lines of 4 stars. There is a scattering of mag. 8 and 9 stars all around the outer edges of the nebula. There is a faint glow all throughout the center of the view, but the ESE and NNE sides are notably darker. Moving the view around makes it clear that the IC1805 area is brighter than the surrounding areas. The extents of the nebulosity seem to end near a line of mag. 9 to 10 stars on the North side. It continues on the WNW side towards another cluster of stars that is in NGC896. There is a faint rift between the nebulas in a NE to SW direction. The nebulosity’s Southern bounds is at a WNW to ESE line of mag. 8 and 9 stars on the South side. A tiny cluster Markarian 6 sits right on the SW edge of the nebulosity. The brightest nebulosity is concentrated around the central cluster of stars.

     Adding a UHC filter reveals some mottling in the nebulosity outside of the the bright center nebulosity around the cluster. The ESE edge of the nebula appears brighter than the inner portions. A faint finger of glow stretches to the NE from the Eastern edge of the nebula. Replacing the UHC with a Hydrogen-Beta filter darkened the stars and the brightest central nebulosity, but the edges of the nebula stand out more with some visible mottling inside the two lobes of the heart shape.

     Below are the observing hints that I wrote up for others attempting this based on observing through several telescopes:

     I spent the night of November 30th observing IC 1805 through a variety of telescopes with various filters at the ATMoB Clubhouse. The best view that I got was through a 102 mm f/7 refractor with a 35mm eyepiece providing a 20x mag and 3.4˚ FoV. I recommend using a UHC to see the most nebulosity. While the edges of the nebula were still difficult to determine exactly where they stopped, it was clear that areas around the nebula were darker than the area inside.

     I actually found a Hydrogen Beta filter to be useful on this object. In my refractor with an H-beta filter (on the wide side for bandwidth) I was able to observe that the outer edge of the nebula was slightly brighter than parts of the middle. Some mottling was visible within the nebula outside of the brighter star clusters. This filter makes everything else really faint.

     I was able to observe the nebulosity in both my 10-inch f/5 Dob (36x, 1.9˚) and the ATMoB 25-inch f/3.5 Dob (63x, 1.1˚). In both cases it required extensive panning of the view to determine that the field was brighter within the nebula than outside. It was difficult in both cases to determine where exactly the edge of the nebula was. Sitting the view on the edges of the nebula, I could tell that one side of the view was brighter than the other. Filters helped, but the view through the 20x power of the 102 mm refractor was better.


     Low magnification definitely is important to this one. Probably works best with the biggest aperture you can find that still gives 20x or lower magnification at a reasonable exit pupil. I don’t think anything over 5-inches  will improve visibility. Don’t bother with OIII unless you want to just see the nebulosity around the bright clusters. UHC is ideal. H-beta is fun if you happen to have one that fits your lowest power eyepieces already.


Sameer Bharadwaj:  Observer from Massachusetts  

William Optics GT71 w/ 0.8x flattener

Optolong L-enhance filter, Canon EOS 77D modified

12 x 360 seconds, Ioptron zeq25 guided with QHY5L2M

     Pursued the Heart Nebula all summer with an unmodified camera with limited success. This is the object that finally motivated me to get the camera modified.    Sameer Bharadwaf




Ed Fraini: Observer from Texas

     My observation of IC 1805 and its neighborhood took place on the evening of December 22 at the North Houston Astronomy Clubs dark site near Dobbin, TX.  We had just that one night of clear cold sky following the passage of a cold front.  The sky conditions were recorded at the end of the observing session and are reported as follows;  The overhead sky measured 17.45 SQM, Transparency above average with three stars magnitudes 6.1 to 6.3  in Cassiopeia visible with direct vision, and  Seeing was excellent from sunset throughout our observation.  Both Vega and Capella were bright and steady at sunset, and they were used as the Sky Commander alignment stars for the 20-inch dob.

     The observing plan was to locate IC 1805 as quickly as possible after sunset, which was at 2330 GMT.  Then to determine how soon nebulosity could be detected as the sky darkened. 

 Time 0010 GMT: 

     Not yet astronomical dark, with strong twilight to the west.  Cassiopeia is high towards the north.  40 mm eyepiece giving a very low 48x.  IC 1805 stands out well, counted 17 stars of which most appeared to be close in magnitude and color.  Only three stars exhibit a slight yellow hue.  The cluster is well separated from other field stars making it easy to identify.  This cluster would be classed as widely dispersed in my judgment. It seems lines would be the characterization of the organization of the stars in the group, and many lines are moving across the field from the central area. Already we can see nebulosity, very light but there, to the north and east out towards NGC 1027.  I was very surprised that the nebulosity was so detectable this soon after sunset.

Time 0020 GMT:  

      I moved IC 1805 off to the northeast out of the field of view until Mrk6 appeared in the 40mm eyepiece.  Mrk6 is a beautiful small asterism that I will refer to my fellow observers as “The Worm.” A quick look at 142x revealed no color and equal magnitudes for this collection of stars.

Time: 0025 GMT: 

     Now moving back to IC 1805 with the 40 mm eyepiece, the cluster is now much more distinctive, and the nebulosity very evident.  I can now count 30 to 35 stars in the field, and it still seems very dispersed.  A broader range of colors was observed at this time.

Time 0032 GMT: 

     Even though the nebulosity to the east is strong.  I installed the OIII filter, which significantly enhances the appearance of the nebulosity for the whole field. The sky background is growing darker, and there are three bright areas of the nebula that can be noted.  These are mainly on a north-west to a south-east line from NGC 896, which is bright through IC 1805 and on to the west to another bright nebula area near NGC 1027.  We can follow the opacity from NGC 1027 to IC 1805 very quickly now.  While there are several bright areas, we could not get a sense of the “heart” shape while looking at these relatively small fields of view.  Quite a bit of time trying to sort out the larger pattern of the Heart Nebula.

Time 0100 GMT: 

     Looking at IC 1805 at with a 26 mm eyepiece (without the OIII filter) gives us an exit pupil of 6.7 mm, which is a good match for my dark-adapted eye. Concentrating on IC1805, we can now count 65 – 70 stars, many of which are very dim.  The nebulosity band is substantial to the north and thins out over the cluster.  I worked my way stepwise up to 320x, in a failed attempt to see the companion to HD 15558.  An interesting note, HD 15558, is listed by Wikipedia as being one of the most massive stars in the Milky Way.  I Identified three nearby stars at magnitude 11 that were barely visible, and the companion is reported to be much fainter.  Under increased power, the star group in the center of IC 1805 looked more rectangular in nature with an L/D of 3. HD 15558 is midway on the long side bottom.

Time 0120 GMT:

Wrapped observation of IC 1805:

     To our surprise, it was easy to detect the nebulosity of this extended object quite soon after sunset. It was also a surprise how difficult it was to keep my  orientation while trying to trace out the heart which we are so all familiar with, as shown by our astrophotography friends.


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts 

      IC 1805 is a VERY challenging object from my home observing site of Framingham, MA. This site offers a NELM of about 4.9 on the very best of nights. Snow cover reduces it to around magnitude 4! The  observing site of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston offers a slightly darker sky with a NELM of about 5.1 or 5.2 but very dark skies are preferred for this object.

     I had an opportunity in November to attempt an observation of this object from Framingham. I was using my 20-inch Dobsonian which is equipped with an internal filter slide holding UHC and OIII filters.  This telescope achieves its richest field configuration when I use my 21 mm 100° eyepiece. This yields a magnification of 120x and a true field of view of 0.83°. 

     The cluster associated with IC 1805 is easy to locate however, with this setup I could see absolutely no trace of nebulosity. Filters did not improve the detectability of the nebula. I tried increasing magnification to darken the background to no avail. The telescope has a 90mm finder that gives 20x and a 3° true field. Considering the large size of this nebulosity, I tried viewing it with this little scope. No luck. I added UHC and OIII filters and again, no luck.

     As a test, I swung the scope to the Veil Nebula. Using the finder with the UHC filter the western portion of the Veil was easy visible. The eastern portion and the nebulosity between the east and west regions was faint but definitely visible. The aperture of this scope proved to be too small to drive light through OIII filter. The failure to detect IC 1805 leads me to believe it is extremely faint!

     In December, I brought an 8-inch f/4 scope to the ATMoB site. While the stars appeared steady, the seeing was actually quite poor. However, using an UHC filter and an eyepiece that gave 50x and a true field of 1.6° I was able to see some extremely faint nebulosity surrounding the cluster. Switching to the OIII the nebulosity was brighter but still very difficult.

     Much to my dismay, I saw no trace of the arcs of nebulosity that lie about ½° to the east of the cluster.

     In my humble opinion, in order to detect this object visually, you’ll need to use an aperture/eyepiece combination that gives low magnification and a large true field of view. Once on the cluster, use UHC and/or OIII filters to enhance the nebulosity, and, as always, try to observe under the darkest skies you can find.


John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts 

     I observed IC 1805 on two nights, 11/30/19 and 12/19/19, from the ATMoB  Clubhouse in Westford, MA.  Both nights were clear and cold, dropping to 18º F. on 11/30, and 10º on 12/19. Unfortunately, transparency and contrast were only fair at best. I observed with my 8.25-inch f/11.5 reflector (210/2415) at 48x, 80x, and 100x.

     Star-hopping to a sparse open cluster in this congested area of the sky was a bit of a challenge. Cassiopeia is chock full of clusters, nebulae, and background stars. Telrad got me to the general area, but my 7×50 finder showed a field with numerous fuzzy areas and knots of stars. Which one was IC 1805?

     Using my finder and motor drive, I moved from spot to spot, and then observed at 48x. The first cluster I landed on was a sparse open cluster with a conspicuously bright central star. This proved to be NGC 1027.  I moved to another nearby object. This looked like it could be IC 1805, which it was. Out of curiosity, I turned to yet another nearby fuzzy, starlike object. This was Markarian 6, an unusual cluster of six or so stars in a curving line. Markarian 6 is so distinctive in its appearance that it was an ideal navigational mark, from which I could verify my location. (I was alerted to Markarian 6 by Luginbuhl and Skiff, later confirmed with an online image). In my finder, NGC 1027, IC 1805, and Markarian 6 formed a triangle that I could traverse with my motor drive (no Goto).

     On the advice of other observers, I used the lowest power, widest FOV eyepiece I have to observe IC 1805. This is a 2-inch 50mm eyepiece providing 48x with a 1 degree FOV. I have no filters for the 50 mm eyepiece. 48x, unfiltered, showed 10 or so brighter stars, widely spaced against a dark background, with some fainter stars about. On the first night I could see haze concentrated around several of the stars in the center of the cluster, but I could not see extended nebulosity. This was the same at 80x and 100x, unfiltered, with 1.25″ eypieces. The most I can say was that there may have been brightening of the background which could could have been nebulosity, but my FOV was too narrow to be sure. On the second night, I was prepared to try Roger Ivester’s sweeping technique, but the sky was badly washed out due to snow cover reflection, and it was too cold for extended experimentation.

     On 1.25-inch eyepieces, UHC and OIII filters at 80x and 100x were not much help. For one thing, the FOV was even narrower.  Although the stars were still visible, the images were dark, and not pleasing. I thought I saw faint differences in brightness in the area around the central stars, but the image was too dark and  faint to be useful. Bear in mind that transparency and contrast were compromised, especially on the second night.

     All in all, a good exercise in “celestial navigation”; not much success in seeing the faint, fuzzy stuff.

     Yet – an interesting thing happened as I was packing up on the second night. One of our club members was allowing fellow observers to look through his 3x  “night vision image intensifier” (NVII). When my turn came, I pointed the device at the region of Cassiopeia I had been observing with somewhat meager results. I was stunned. There, hanging in the sky off Epsilon Cassiopeia, were the two nebula associated with IC 1805 and IC 1848. They were amazingly large and bright, at 3x.

     I had never used one of these devices before.  I am still trying to sort out what this almost magical technology means for traditional observational astronomy.


Vladislav Mlch:  Observer from Massachusetts

Date:  Nov 30 and Dec 28, 2019

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, below average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 10 mm eyepiece (100º apparent field of view)   (185x – FOV 0.54º ) Night vision intensifier with 1.2x Barlow (92x, FOV 0.43º)

Filter:  7 nm Ha used on the NVI  

     I was able to sketch only the central portion of the cluster.  There seems to be patterns of many arches, all consisting of mostly mag. 5-6 stars.

     There was no sign of nebulosity when using a regular eyepiece. I was able to see some nebulosity with the night vision intensifier, coupled to a 7 nm Ha filter. The true field of view of the DOB was too narrow to see the entire nebula at the same time.



Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts

     On  December 19th I had the opportunity to view the heart nebula using Vladislav Mlch’s Gen III night vision device. He had it set up for hand held use with a 3x lens (75 mm) and Ha narrow band filter.  It was like a magic eye loupe revealing the true nature of the night sky, laiden with numerous Ha regions everywhere I looked.  A truly remarkable experience!

      At the time, the heart nebula was nearly over head so I had to crane my neck to see it, but the sight was worth it.  Both the heart and the soul were clearly visible with great contrast. The heart was distinctly heart shaped with a bright outline and central band. 

     On Dec 20th  before setting up my EAA equipment at the clubhouse I tried to observe the heart visually. I used my 80mm f/7.5 ED refractor with a 50 mm 2-inch eyepiece and a UHC filter. This resulted in a wide 5° FOV at 12x with an exit pupil of 6.6 mm, which could drive a lot of light through the filter. 

      I was able to see some very faint nebulosity around the central star cluster. I also saw the fish head (IC1795) as a detached area of concentrated glow, definitely brighter than the glow around the central cluster. I did not see the fainter heart shaped outline, even after panning around and jiggling the scope with averted vision.  

     On December 28th I live stacked the heart nebula with my new IMX294 based camera in my 208 mm f/3.9 Newtonian. The new camera has a much larger sensor than my IMX224, resulting in a much larger field of view, but I was still only able to fit a choice part of the massive heart nebula into the FOV.  I chose to frame the bright central cluster of the heart and the nearby fish head nebula. 

     In the short 8s frames the red nebulosity was visible around the central cluster and the fish head, albeit very noisy. Once the live stack was started the grainy noise started to fade and I could stretch the histogram to cut the sky glow and reveal some of the fainter outline as more frames accumulated. There are wonderful wisps of nebulosity tangled in the central star cluster. The illumination/ionization from the blazing stars gives a very 3D effect to the gas and dust.

     The outline of the heart was much fainter. With aggressive stretching it could be separated from the background, but I settled on a smoother more natural look.  The fish head certainly lives up to its namesake, complete with a gill plate, lips, and an eye. It reminds me of my large pet goldfish.

     Halfway between the central cluster of IC 1805 and the brighter glow of the fish head I noticed a small open cluster of lovely golden stars magnitude 14-17. I later found out it was  called Tombaugh 4, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh while reviewing photographic plates from Lowell Observatory. 

     If I had more clear nights between the holidays I would have liked to try a wide field shot with a camera lens in order to frame the whole nebula.  I am still very happy with how the close up turned out. I look forward to getting more practice with the new camera,

IC 1805 Heart Nebula and IC 1795 Fish Head Nebula

heart and fish_Stack_bits_Gain_343frames_2744s_20_17_03_WithDisplayStretch-downresed

208 mm f/3.9 Newt, ASI294MC-Pro, SW Quattro CC,

8s x 243 = 2744s = ~46 min, live-stacked and stretched in SharpCap